phenomenon[fə näm′ə nən, -nän′]
- The definition of a phenomenon is something that is observable or an extraordinary thing or person.
- An example of phenomenon is a lunar eclipse.
- An example of phenomenon is a classical musical great such as Beethoven.
nounpl. phenomena , phenomenons
- any event, circumstance, or experience that is apparent to the senses and that can be scientifically described or appraised, as an eclipse
- in Kantian philosophy, a thing as it appears in perception as distinguished from the thing as it is in itself independent of sense experience
- any extremely unusual or extraordinary thing or occurrence
- Informal a person with an extraordinary quality, aptitude, etc.; prodigy
Origin of phenomenonLate Latin phaenomenon ; from Classical Greek phainomenon, neuter present participle of phainesthai, to appear, akin to phainein: see fantasy
- An occurrence, circumstance, or fact that is perceptible by the senses.
- pl. phe·nom·e·nons a. An unusual, significant, or unaccountable fact or occurrence; a marvel.b. A remarkable or outstanding person; a paragon. See Synonyms at wonder.
- Philosophy In the philosophy of Kant, an object as it is perceived by the senses, as opposed to a noumenon.
- Physics An observable event.
Origin of phenomenonLate Latin phaenomenon, from Greek phainomenon, from neuter present participle of phainesthai, to appear; see bhā-1 in Indo-European roots. Usage Note: Phenomenon is the only acceptable singular form of this noun; phenomena is the usual plural. Phenomenons may also be used as the plural in nonscientific writing when the meaning is “extraordinary things, occurrences, or persons”: They were phenomenons in the history of music.
- An observable fact or occurrence or a kind of observable fact or occurrence.
- Appearance; a perceptible aspect of something that is mutable.
- A fact or event considered very unusual, curious, or astonishing by those who witness it.
- A wonderful or very remarkable person or thing.
- (philosophy, chiefly Kantian idealism) An experienced object whose constitution reflects the order and conceptual structure imposed upon it by the human mind (especially by the powers of perception and understanding).
- The universal, common, modern spelling of this term is phenomenon. Of the alternative forms listed above, phaenomenon, phænomenon, and phainomenon are etymologically consistent, retaining the αι diphthong from its Ancient Greek etymon φαινόμενον (phainomenon); in the case of the first two, it is in the Romanised form of the Latin ae diphthong, whereas in the latter it is a direct transcription of the original Ancient Greek. The form spelt with œ has no etymological basis. All those alternative forms are pronounced identically with phenomenon and are archaic, except for phainomenon, which sees some technical use in academia and is pronounced with an initial fī ([faɪ],).
- By far the most common and universally accepted plural form is the classical phenomena; the Anglicised phenomenons is also sometimes used. The plural form phenomena is frequently misused in the singular. Arising from this misuse, the double plurals phenomenas and phenomenae, as well as a form employing the greengrocer’s apostrophe — phenomena’s — are seen in non-standard use; they are erroneous.
From Late Latin phaenomenon (“appearance”), from Ancient Greek φαινόμενον (phainomenon, “thing appearing to view”), neuter present passive participle of φαίνω (phainō, “I show”).