Illusory is from a Latin derivative meaning to mock or ridicule. It’s a fitting end to this look at words of trickery, mockery, and deception—words that makes us fools. Illusion can be thrilling, frightening, mildly entertaining, or, as is suggested here, deceptive. Words like illusory illustrate our fear of such deceptions, from a mirage to a false smile. Being made a fool is a common human fear. When it’s in good fun, most of us can have a laugh and move on. But the nature of mockery is such that we never know just how far a joke will go or how deeply hurt one might be.
Other words this month:
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