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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

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.

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
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 ?
Take a romp through the mind of a playwright who can't shake his writer's block when Mundelein Theatre presents "Figments" by Billy St.
Mr Farrell may think ghosts are figments of the imagination, but millions of people across the world have seen ghosts, and that list includes Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Charles, Sting, and even several Presidents of the United States.
Expertly shot by Knut Klassen and edited by Marc Aschenbrenner as though the camera were Bock's body or Bock's eyes were the camera, these shimmering, visionary figments of an unstoppable imagination are critical to the ongoing debate on how to read and remember live art's history while contributing to a performance idiom of the future.
Expensive and flamboyant architecture, fountains, decor, statues and so-called pieces of art are usually figments of committee claptrap.
After years of mysterious sightings, usually dismissed as being overweight family cats or figments of the imagination, an Edinburgh pathologist has said he is convinced that a goose, handed to him by Essex police for examination, had fallen prey to a bigcat.
CONCEPT cars, those showpiece figments of eccentric designers' maddest imaginings, rarely make it to complete reality.
A few of the cutouts have fallen off and the semenlike stain of the glue ghosts the shape of a body: These men are figments of the imagination but also the vestiges of the muscular frames that blossomed in '50s physical-culture magazines (a kind of protoporn) and returned with a steroid-fueled vengeance in the '80s, sublimation of the wasting body of AIDS.
Somewhere between Brancusi-esque bases without their better halves and supertechnological "appliances" for a race of freaks, these freckly figments seem neither purely aesthetic nor wholly functional: They linger somewhere uncomfortably in-between.
In the monumental Riding Around, 1969, three hooded figures--two smoking cigars--drive around an urban environment looking for "action." Although the roots of these figures go back to social-realist murals of Klansmen that Guston painted in the '30s, the hoods reborn in the late '60s seem less malevolent than quirky, even adorable, as figments of his own character.
In the recent offering, Nietzsche was the hero, set upon by what may be figments of his own fantasy.
What we get are psychedelic "fantasy doodles" (figments of skeletons eating figments of snakes strangling figments of birds; copulating insects that are also war machines; O'Keeffe-like art nouveau floral arrangements as a mesh of sexual organs, etc.).
We began layering ourselves with protective covering, contriving ourselves as figments of the public imagination, disembodying ourselves as "phone friends," withdrawing to our various Fortresses of Solitude like Supermen contemplating the properties of kryptonite.
Shooting stars and phosphorescence, perhaps a figment who can say Did I see her shipping green seas, smie the porpoise at their play?
Feike Fidel, the thematic link, identifies himself as the author's creation, a figment of the imagination, cast in the role of a would-be poet in search of the vision and the words for the poem that will ensure his immortality.