Figment of one’s imagination

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A figment of one’s imagination is an interesting phrase. It’s earliest known use was by the author Charlotte Brontë. We will examine the definition of the phrase a figment of one’s imagination, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A figment of one’s imagination means something one has created out of whole cloth, something that exists only in one’s mind, something that is made up. Interestingly, the word figment means something that exists only in one’s imagination, making the expression a figment of one’s imagination a tautology. A tautology is a phrase or idiom in which the same idea is expressed twice using different words. The word figment is derived from the Latin word figmentum, meaning contrivance. The expression of figment of one’s imagination was first used by Charlotte Brontë in the novel Jane Eyre: “The long dishevelled hair, the swelled black face, the exaggerated stature, were figments of imagination.” The word figment is rarely seen outside of the phrase figment of one’s imagination. The plural form is figments of one’s imagination.


McElwain, whose team is 3-3 and has lost two straight home games by a combined three points, has become embroiled in a controversy this week over controversial death threats that many people believe are a figment of his imagination. (The Orlando Sentinel)

“Forgotten” is an exploration of J.M. Barrie’s classic children’s story, “Peter Pan” and poses the question of whether it was simply a story, a figment of Wendy’s imagination, or a real place. (The Bonner County Daily Bee)

“We wish to state unequivocally that the posters are the figment of the imagination of the originator(s), and we call on all Ghanaians and the general public to treat the poster campaign with the contempt it deserves,” the statement said. (The Ghana News Agency)