Definition of imagine in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Form a mental image or concept of.

    with clause ‘I couldn't imagine what she expected to tell them’
    ‘imagine a road trip from Philadelphia to Chicago’
    • ‘Can you imagine the outcry if English football fans were treated in this way?’
    • ‘However they imagined this end, I cannot help but seeing an image of a body bag being zipped up.’
    • ‘Sometimes I try to imagine who would be the ideal partner for my friends.’
    • ‘Still, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to see this film while sober.’
    • ‘But most Canadians have no trouble imagining that grim scenario.’
    • ‘But it is difficult to imagine who is going to be fooled by this.’
    • ‘"Without my mother, I just can't imagine living, " she says.’
    • ‘Can you just imagine how that little scenario of scavenger fun and games unfolded?’
    • ‘But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine something like this could have happened.’
    • ‘The surface of a pond represents mental possibility, everything you imagine you could attain.’
    • ‘I bet she was imagining the horrors that we were going to go through.’
    • ‘Now imagine just what half a million recalled trucks just cost the General?’
    • ‘The images of them flying around the house imagining themselves as their favourite anime hero is too cute.’
    • ‘I could just imagine how things between Roland and I will go.’
    • ‘Ready to go all-out to build the body you imagined in your dreams?’
    • ‘Have you ever imagined what a million butterflies would look like?’
    • ‘I had expected some reaction from imagining stories of those who did not make it home.’
    • ‘Children's chairs are commonplace now, but the concept had never even been imagined in Newcastle.’
    • ‘The main reason we have a hard time imagining these scenarios isn't just that the technical problems are daunting.’
    • ‘I couldn't imagine even going on after that.’
    visualize, envisage, envision, picture, form a picture of, see in the mind's eye, conjure up, conceptualize
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Believe (something unreal or untrue) to exist or be so.
      ‘I think you're imagining things’
      • ‘It should be understood that the illness complaints are real and verifiable; the victims are not imagining their problems.’
      • ‘Presenting symptoms can come and go with such rapidity that even the patient herself may wonder if she is imagining things, although her suffering is real enough.’
      • ‘He might have believed the pain he'd felt had been imagined if not for the mysterious situation he now was in.’
      • ‘The danger of staying in there was more imagined than real, but damn I wanted out of there real bad!’
      • ‘Which brings me to my real question: Am I imagining things, or is the book world trying too hard these days to be timely?’
      • ‘I feel myself falling, deeper than I would ever have imagined possible.’
      • ‘In short, women are more likely to have their pain dismissed as being more imagined than real, he says.’
      • ‘He couldn't believe it, he must be imagining things.’
      • ‘The apparent differences between women and men may also be more imagined than real.’
      • ‘Today, consumers consume at levels that few long ago could have imagined possible.’
      • ‘We must compete with career choices that I would never have imagined possible.’
      • ‘Few architects draw strange shapes for their own sake: there is usually some kind of real or imagined logic driving them.’
      • ‘Its end provided an opportunity to seek reassurance and a new identity in real or imagined ethnic nationalisms.’
      • ‘For many years there's been a belief that this is a psychological condition, that it doesn't really exist, that the patients are imagining symptoms or malingering.’
      • ‘I would even have believed that I imagined the whole thing, except that there was a cold bottle of water left on the seat next to me.’
      • ‘Race is also sometimes used to divide humanity into different groups according to real or imagined common descent.’
      • ‘Charles' eyes widened; he had secretly hoped that he was imagining this all, and he realized it was very real.’
      • ‘Lisa's running for her life from a man with whom she has either a real or imagined passionate relationship.’
      • ‘He shrugged and resumed his watch with a sigh after moments of silence, believing he had imagined the noise.’
      • ‘Before, if I crashed or had some real or imagined minor injury, I just took a few days off until it healed.’
  • 2with clause Suppose or assume.

    ‘after Ned died, everyone imagined that Mabel would move away’
    • ‘The uninitiated could be forgiven for imagining that the tradition of heading to a holiday camp for a summer knees-up was in terminal decline.’
    • ‘Where he went wrong was in imagining that the same small numbers could then sustain occupation of the country.’
    • ‘With nothing tangible at stake in terms of league positions, one might have been forgiven for imagining that it would develop into a fairly mundane affair.’
    • ‘Without context we can end up imagining that we know it all, that what is past has no value, that maturity and wisdom can come from the pages of a book or the advice of a guru rather than out of the distilled wisdom of a lived life.’
    • ‘If the trick works, the movements ranged against us will disperse, imagining that the world's problems have been solved.’
    • ‘If the paranoid imagines that everyone he meets is involved in a nebulous pattern of malign intentions, in his accident scene the harm was literal and the direct cause perceptible.’
    • ‘I think everyone imagines that they are either ‘live’ or far more recent.’
    • ‘There are also the businessmen with briefcases who look nervously at my camera, imagining that I am a paid spy.’
    • ‘Deduct 10 points for imagining that George might apologise to all concerned.’
    • ‘Growing up she imagined that every other woman knew how to raise a child in the same way that they knew how to breathe.’
    • ‘I watched a man struggled with the stubborn engine and the snow on his car, imagining that he wouldn't be in the best of moods.’
    • ‘The Swede may have taken up his highly-paid job imagining that landing the World Cup was all that mattered to English football: he knows better now.’
    • ‘We are supposed to imagine that this telephone conversation could be taking place right now.’
    • ‘Yet, put simply, movie-makers have budgetary reasons for imagining that the worst will happen.’
    • ‘The Victorians may be forgiven for imagining that the sun would never set on their empire but, in York at least, they should have anticipated that the tide would eventually rise over it.’
    • ‘I imagine that Oxford and Canterbury had their reasons to believe he might not do a bad job.’
    • ‘But while it has plenty of gentle slopes, do not let this fool you into imagining that it is purely for softies.’
    • ‘Based on his guess as to the size of the building he imagines that the purchase price would be in the region of US $750-900,000.’
    • ‘We're imagining that the first show will run something like this.’
    • ‘We would have shuffled on for a few more years - imagining that we were coping with a changing world if another train coming down the tracks hadn't blown us completely off course.’
    assume, presume, expect, take it, take it for granted, take it as read, take it as given, presuppose
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1as exclamation Just suppose.
      ‘imagine! to outwit Heydrich!’


Middle English: from Old French imaginer, from Latin imaginare ‘form an image of, represent’ and imaginari ‘picture to oneself’, both from imago, imagin- ‘image’.