The mathematical sense derives from René Descartes's use (of the French imaginaire) in 1637, La Geometrie, to ridicule the notion of regarding non-real roots of polynomials as numbers. Although Descartes' usage was derogatory, the designation stuck even after the concept gained acceptance in the 18th century.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɪˈmæd͡ʒɪnəɹi/, /ɪˈmæd͡ʒɪnɹi/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ɪˈmæd͡ʒɪˌnɛɹi/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Hyphenation: im‧a‧gin‧a‧ry
- Existing only in the imagination.
- Unicorns are imaginary.
- (mathematics, of a number) Having no real part; that part of a complex number which is a multiple of (called imaginary unit).
- (existing only in the imagination): all in one's head
Derived terms edit
imaginary (plural imaginaries)
- Imagination; fancy. [from 16th c.]
- 2002, Colin Jones, The Great Nation, Penguin, published 2003, page 324:
- By then too Mozart's opera, from Da Ponte's libretto, had made Figaro a stock character in the European imaginary and set the whole Continent whistling Mozartian airs and chuckling at Figaresque humour.
- (mathematics) An imaginary number. [from 18th c.]
- (sociology) The set of values, institutions, laws, and symbols common to a particular social group and the corresponding society through which people imagine their social whole. [from c. 1975]
- 1978, John Derrickson McCurdy, Visionary Appropriation, page 145:
- The sensory media are sensuous materials which prolong our bodily life into the surrounding world, and hence the media are imaginaries. These perceptually penetrated materials are " imaginaries " because they operate here in our living body […] .
- 1994, Graham Dawson, Soldier Heroes: British Adventure, Empire, and the Imagining ..., page 51:
- For example, colonial motifs of many kinds became increasingly central to the British national imaginary from the mid-nineteenth century, while the imaginative significance of 'the soldier' has long been derived from, and helped to sustain, the linkage between national and military imaginaries.
- 2015, Adrian Daub, Elisabeth Krimmer, Goethe Yearbook 22, page 96:
- While Oil, its extraction, and the global petroculture and its role in transforming the planet's climate undoubtedly play a crucial role in the Antropocene imaginary — to the extent that petrofiction has been construed not just as a genre but as a periodizing gesture of "petromodernity" — it would hamper both the imagination and the root of petrofiction to restrict the range of this term to the encounter with fossil fuels within a carbon imaginary.