The power of the mind to decompose its conceptions, and to recombine the elements of them at its
pleasure, is called its faculty of imagination.I. Taylor.
The business of conception is to present us with an exact transcript of what we have felt or perceived.
But we have moreover a power of modifying our conceptions, by combining the parts of different ones
together, so as to form new wholes of our creation. I shall employ the word imagination to express this
3. The power to recombine the materials furnished by experience or memory, for the accomplishment of
an elevated purpose; the power of conceiving and expressing the ideal.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poetShak.
Are of imagination all compact . . .
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And as imagination bodies forth
forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation
and a name.
4. A mental image formed by the action of the imagination as a faculty; a conception; a notion. Shak.
Syn. Conception; idea; conceit; fancy; device; origination; invention; scheme; design; purpose; contrivance.
Imagination, Fancy. These words have, to a great extent, been interchanged by our best writers,
and considered as strictly synonymous. A distinction, however, is now made between them which more
fully exhibits their nature. Properly speaking, they are different exercises of the same general power
the plastic or creative faculty. Imagination consists in taking parts of our conceptions and combining
them into new forms and images more select, more striking, more delightful, more terrible, etc., than
those of ordinary nature. It is the higher exercise of the two. It creates by laws more closely connected
with the reason; it has strong emotion as its actuating and formative cause; it aims at results of a definite
and weighty character. Milton's fiery lake, the debates of his Pandemonium, the exquisite scenes of his
Paradise, are all products of the imagination. Fancy moves on a lighter wing; it is governed by laws of
association which are more remote, and sometimes arbitrary or capricious. Hence the term fanciful,
which exhibits fancy in its wilder flights. It has for its actuating spirit feelings of a lively, gay, and versatile
character; it seeks to please by unexpected combinations of thought, startling contrasts, flashes of brilliant
imagery, etc. Pope's Rape of the Lock is an exhibition of fancy which has scarcely its equal in the literature
of any country. "This, for instance, Wordsworth did in respect of the words &lsquoimagination' and
&lsquofancy.' Before he wrote, it was, I suppose, obscurely felt by most that in &lsquoimagination' there
was more of the earnest, in &lsquofancy' of the play of the spirit; that the first was a loftier faculty and
gift than the second; yet for all this words were continually, and not without loss, confounded. He first,
in the preface to his Lyrical Ballads, rendered it henceforth impossible that any one, who had read and
mastered what he has written on the two words, should remain unconscious any longer of the important
difference between them." Trench.
The same power, which we should call fancy if employed on a production of a light nature, would be
dignified with the title of imagination if shown on a grander scale.C. J. Smith.
(Im*ag`i*na"tion*al) a. Pertaining to, involving, or caused by, imagination.
(Im*ag`i*na"tion*al*ism) n. Idealism. J. Grote.
(Im*ag"i*na*tive) a. [F. imaginatif.]
1. Proceeding from, and characterized by, the imagination, generally in the highest sense of the word.
In all the higher departments of imaginative art, nature still constitutes an important element.Mure.