American English

Definition of imagination noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[uncountable, countable] the ability to create pictures in your mind; the part of your mind that does this a vivid/fertile imagination He has no imagination. It doesn't take much imagination to guess what she meant. I won't tell you his reaction—I'll leave that to your imagination. Don't let your imagination run away with you (= don't use too much imagination). The new policies appear to have caught the imagination of the public (= they find them interesting and exciting). Nobody hates you—it's all in your imagination. (informal) Use your imagination! (= used to tell someone that they will have to guess the answer to the question they have asked you, usually because it is obvious or embarrassing) His stories really stretch children's imaginations.
  2. 2[uncountable] something that you have imagined rather than something that exists She was no longer able to distinguish between imagination and reality. Is it my imagination or have you lost a lot of weight?
  3. 3[uncountable] the ability to have new and exciting ideas His writing lacks imagination. With a little imagination, you could turn this place into a palace. We are looking for someone with ingenuity and imagination.
  4. Idioms
    a figment of somebody's imagination
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    something that someone has imagined and that does not really exist Are you telling me that these symptoms are just a figment of my imagination?
    leave nothing/little to the imagination
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    (of clothes) to allow more of someone's body to be seen than usual Her tight-fitting dress left nothing to the imagination.
    not by any stretch of the imagination, by no stretch of the imagination
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    used to say strongly that something is not true, even if you try to imagine or believe it She could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called beautiful. By no stretch of the imagination could the trip be described as relaxing.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: imagination