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I was reading about the kanji 幻, which I take to mean illusion or vision(not 見 vision), and looked at words with it. I saw the words:

  • [幻滅]{げんめつ}-disilusion
  • 幻想{げんそう}-illusion
  • 幻覚{げんかく}-hallucination
  • 幻影{げんえい}-phantom
  • 幻{まぼろし}-illusion
  • 夢幻{むげん}-fantasy/phantom

Is that the correct translation of the words? Are some more common than others? What are the different connotations of each word for an illusion? A lot of them, like 幻影 and 幻 look similar, but the first seems to be more of the ghost kind, but I'm not too sure. What's the difference between 錯覚 and 幻覚?

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You will also see 幻獣 quite often if you play any fantasy games. :) –  Darius Jahandarie Aug 23 at 2:10

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up vote 8 down vote accepted
  • 幻影【げんえい】 / 幻【まぼろし】: Almost the same, except that the former being 漢語 and the latter being 和語. Some ghostly or dreamy things that may or may not exist. 「幻の大陸」 means a continent whose existence is not confirmed.
  • 幻想【げんそう】: This comes off to me as "imagination", "fantasy" or "fiction" rather than "illusion". It's in titles of many comics and games, but we usually don't use it in daily conversations.
  • 夢幻【むげん】: This is another cool-sounding word for novelists and artists. As an otaku I recall I saw this word many times, but never sought for its definition. Usually "夢 and 幻" is enough to understand it.

And the following words are scientific terms, which are medically or psychologically defined. But you can safely use these in daily conversations, too.

  • 幻覚【げんかく】: =Hallucination. To perceive something which is not really there, usually due to mental illness. It includes 幻視【げんし】 and 幻聴【げんちょう】, which are typical symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • 錯覚【さっかく】: =Illusion. To perceive something which is really there, but in a distorted way, even when the sensory system is normal. The best-known is 錯視【さくし】 (optical illusion), aka 目の錯覚.
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