imagination

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be a figment of (one's/the) imagination

To be an imagined experience (especially after one has initially thought it to be real). I thought I heard the sound of my front door opening last night but it turned out to be a figment of my imagination.
See also: figment, imagination, of

beyond imagination

Inconceivable; outside of the realm of imagination, expectation, or anticipation. I find it simply beyond imagination the greed of all these big corporations. That film was amazing, it was actually beyond imagination.
See also: beyond, imagination

by any stretch of the imagination

As much or as far as one is able to imagine or believe. Usually used in the negative. It's looking like we're not going to win by any stretch of the imagination. I can't see by any stretch of the imagination how we're going to pull this off.
See also: any, by, imagination, of, stretch

by no stretch of the imagination

Unable to happen within, at, or beyond the limits of the imagination; in no possible situation or from no conceivable perspective. By no stretch of the imagination do I think our team has a chance of winning tonight. Tommy does all right in school, but by no stretch of the imagination would I call him a genius.
See also: by, imagination, no, of, stretch

capture (one's) imagination

To hold one's interest or spark one's creativity. I know it sounds strange, but his talk on the importance of obtuse angles really captured my imagination. That movie captured his imagination so much that it inspired him to become a screenwriter.
See also: capture, imagination

figment of (one's)/the imagination

An experience that initially is thought to be real but is actually imagined. I thought I heard the sound of my front door opening last night but it turned out to be a figment of my imagination.
See also: figment, imagination, of

flight of imagination

An imaginative but unrealistic idea. No one took his campaign for office seriously because his proposed solutions to problems were filled with flights of imagination.
See also: flight, imagination, of

leave little to the imagination

1. Of clothing, to hide or cover very little (of the body) or be very revealing. I was quite embarrassed when John showed up for our date wearing ill-fitting jeans that left little to the imagination.
2. To present (something) in a very stark or obvious manner. The film is relentlessly blunt with its anti-religious message, leaving little to the imagination from beginning to end.

leave nothing to the imagination

1. Of clothing, to hide or cover very little (of the body) or be very revealing. I was quite embarrassed when John showed up for our date wearing ill-fitting jeans that left nothing to the imagination.
2. To present (something) in a very stark or obvious manner. The film is relentlessly blunt with its anti-religious message, leaving nothing to the imagination from beginning to end.

not by any stretch of the imagination

In no possible situation or from no conceivable perspective. Not by any stretch of the imagination do I think our team has a chance of winning tonight. Tommy does all right in school, but not by any stretch of the imagination would I call him a genius.
See also: any, by, imagination, not, of, stretch

pique (one's) (emotion)

To arouse a particular emotion in one. While the special effects looked impressive, it was the movie's approach to its female characters that piqued my interest. Nothing piques my ire like people who don't use their turn signals when they're driving! It's important to provide your children with experiences that pique their curiosity.
See also: pique
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

by any stretch of the imagination

as much as anyone could imagine; as much as is imaginable. (Often negative.) I don't see how anyone by any stretch of the imagination could fail to understand what my last sentence meant.
See also: any, by, imagination, of, stretch

capture someone's imagination

Fig. to intrigue someone; to interest someone in a lasting way; to stimulate someone's imagination. The story of the young wizard has captured the imagination of the world's children.
See also: capture, imagination
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

figment of one's imagination

Something made up, invented, or fabricated, as in "The long dishevelled hair, the swelled black face, the exaggerated stature were figments of imagination" (Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847). This term is redundant, since figment means "product of the imagination." [Early 1800s]
See also: figment, imagination, of
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

not by any stretch of the imagination

or

by no stretch of the imagination

If you say that something is not true or possible by any stretch of the imagination or by no stretch of the imagination, you mean that it is completely untrue or impossible. He had several jobs, all of them involving driving but none of them well-paid by any stretch of the imagination. By no stretch of the imagination could his speech be described as impersonal.
See also: any, by, imagination, not, of, stretch

by any stretch of the imagination

If something is not true by any stretch of the imagination, it is definitely not true. The Danube was not by any stretch of the imagination blue. Note: People sometimes just say by any stretch. He is not regarded as a serious biographer by any stretch.
See also: any, by, imagination, of, stretch
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

by no (or not by any) stretch of the imagination

used to emphasize that something is definitely not the case.
1996 New Statesman Though it is by no stretch of the imagination a political paper, its owner has a reputation as an outspoken critic of China.
See also: by, imagination, no, of, stretch
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

a figment of somebody’s imagiˈnation

something which somebody only imagines: Doctor, are you suggesting the pain is a figment of my imagination?
See also: figment, imagination, of

by ˈno stretch of the imagination

,

not by ˈany stretch of the imagination

it is completely impossible to say; by no means: By no stretch of the imagination could you call him clever.You couldn’t say that factory was beautiful, not by any stretch of the imagination!
See also: by, imagination, no, of, stretch
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

figment of the imagination, a

An imaginary occurrence; a pipe dream. This expression is tautological, since figment means a product of fictitious invention. Nevertheless, it has been used since the mid-nineteenth century. It appeared in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847): “The long dishevelled hair, the swelled black face, the exaggerated stature, were figments of imagination.”
See also: figment, of
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Struck by the neglect of the material cause in aesthetic philosophy, Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962), the significant French thinker, wondrously contributed his penetrating search upon how matter engages our imagination and mind in the significant way, after his successful career as a scientific philosopher.
Going back to a historical perspective on shared group thought, we find American historian James Gilbert and other colleagues from history and various social sciences, who in a collaborative effort in 1993, wrote about the social imagination in the United States.
I could accept that Chabon's trick was part of "a more contemporary exploration of the relationship between history and the imagination," if I saw any evidence at all that anyone had done any such exploring.
Imagination infuses most kids' lives in a much broader way, Taylor says.
In his path-breaking book, The Environmental Imagination, Lawrence Buell argues that changes in environmental policy and action depend upon changes in the ways we imagine the world around us and our relation to it.
Children's imaginations and creativity are the seeds of tomorrow's progress and innovations.
In the first lecture I endeavored, with as much candor and imagination as I could, to respond to the challenge set forth by the trustees, whoever they may be, of the Hein Fry Lectures for this year under their somewhat paranoid topic, "Biblical Preaching in Babel." I think my job was to try to say to them then, as I say to you this morning, that just because they're out to get you is no reason not to be paranoid; but paranoia is a very minor virtue, and what I'm trying to suggest to you is that we ought to get out from underneath the cloud of paranoia which we tend to find comforting and reassuring--for, because we've been under it for so long, we recognize the familiar as the good.
We have the freedom to choose, but we shall get it wrong if our imaginations are undernourished.
This study also indicates that second grade is a good time to promote creativity and imaginations as this was the age in which children were most confident in their imaginative abilities.
Four years ago, after years of witnessing the expansive imaginations and enthusiasms of her bunnies, Nelson established the invitation-only, tuition-free troupe.
There are so many Microsoft millionaires around that they can work all the hours God sends and they will still not be able to afford the houses they deserve in their own imaginations.
Nothing had yet narrowed their imaginations against contradiction.
It is what is not seen--the rest of the child --that makes the picture reach into our imaginations.