American Dictionary of the English Language

Dictionary Search


IMAGINA'TION, noun [Latin imaginatio.] The power or faculty of the mind by which it conceives and forms ideas of things communicated to it by the organs of sense.

Imagination I understand to be the representation of an individual thought.

Our simple apprehension of corporeal objects, if present, is sense; if absent, is imagination [conception.]

Imagination, in its proper sense, signifies a lively conception of objects of sight. It is distinguished from conception, as a part from a whole.

The business of conception is to present us with an exact transcript of what we have felt or perceived. But we have also a power of modifying our conceptions, by combining the parts of different ones so as to form new wholes of our own creation. I shall employ the word imagination to express this power. I apprehend this to be the proper sense of the word, if imagination be the power which gives birth to the productions of the poet and the painter.

We would define imagination to be the will working on the materials of memory; not satisfied with following the order prescribed by nature, or suggested by accident, it selects the parts of different conceptions, or objects of memory, to form a whole more pleasing, more terrible, or more awful, than has ever been presented in the ordinary course of nature.

The two latter definitions give the true sense of the word, as now understood.

1. Conception; image in the mind; idea.

Sometimes despair darkens all her imaginations.

His imaginations were often as just as they were bold and strong.

2. Contrivance; scheme formed in the mind; device.

Thou hast seen all their vengeance, and all their imaginations against me. Lamentations 3:60.

3. Conceit; an unsolid or fanciful opinion.

We are apt to think that space, in itself, is actually boundless; to which imagination the idea of space of itself leads us.

4. First motion or purpose of the mind. Genesis 6:5.