1. a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.
  2. the sleeping state in which this occurs.
  3. an object seen in a dream.
  4. an involuntary vision occurring to a person when awake.
  5. a vision voluntarily indulged in while awake; daydream; reverie.
  6. an aspiration; goal; aim: A trip to Europe is his dream.
  7. a wild or vain fancy.
  8. something of an unreal beauty, charm, or excellence.

verb (used without object), dreamed or dreamt, dream·ing.

  1. to have a dream.
  2. to indulge in daydreams or reveries: He dreamed about vacation plans when he should have been working.
  3. to think or conceive of something in a very remote way (usually followed by of): I wouldn’t dream of asking them.

verb (used with object), dreamed or dreamt, dream·ing.

  1. to see or imagine in sleep or in a vision.
  2. to imagine as if in a dream; fancy; suppose.
  3. to pass or spend (time) in dreaming (often followed by away): to dream away the afternoon.


  1. most desirable; ideal: a dream vacation.

Verb Phrases

  1. dream up, to form in the imagination; devise: They dreamed up the most impossible plan.


    1. mental activity, usually in the form of an imagined series of events, occurring during certain phases of sleep
    2. (as modifier)a dream sequence
    3. (in combination)dreamland Related adjective: oneiric
    1. a sequence of imaginative thoughts indulged in while awake; daydream; fantasy
    2. (as modifier)a dream world
  1. a person or thing seen or occurring in a dream
  2. a cherished hope; ambition; aspiration
  3. a vain hope
  4. a person or thing that is as pleasant, or seemingly unreal, as a dream
  5. go like a dream to move, develop, or work very well

verb dreams, dreaming, dreamed or dreamt (drɛmt)

  1. (may take a clause as object) to undergo or experience (a dream or dreams)
  2. (intr) to indulge in daydreams
  3. (intr) to suffer delusions; be unrealisticyou’re dreaming if you think you can win
  4. (when intr, foll by of or about) to have an image (of) or fantasy (about) in or as if in a dream
  5. (intr foll by of) to consider the possibility (of)I wouldn’t dream of troubling you


  1. too good to be true; idealdream kitchen

mid-13c. in the sense “sequence of sensations passing through a sleeping person’s mind” (also as a verb), probably related to Old Norse draumr, Danish drøm, Swedish dröm, Old Saxon drom “merriment, noise,” Old Frisian dram “dream,” Dutch droom, Old High German troum, German traum “dream,” perhaps from West Germanic *draugmas “deception, illusion, phantasm” (cf. Old Saxon bidriogan, Old High German triogan, German trügen “to deceive, delude,” Old Norse draugr “ghost, apparition”). Possible cognates outside Germanic are Sanskrit druh- “seek to harm, injure,” Avestan druz- “lie, deceive.”

But Old English dream meant only “joy, mirth, noisy merriment,” also “music.” And much study has failed to prove that Old English dream is the root of the modern word for “sleeping vision,” despite being identical in spelling. Either the meaning of the word changed dramatically or “vision” was an unrecorded secondary Old English meaning of dream, or there are two separate words here. OED offers this theory: “It seems as if the presence of dream ‘joy, mirth, music,’ had caused dream ‘dream’ to be avoided, at least in literature, and swefn, lit. ‘sleep,’ to be substituted” ….

Words for “sleeping vision” in Old English were mæting and swefn. Old English swefn originally meant “sleep,” as did a great many Indo-European “dream” nouns, e.g. Lithuanian sapnas, Old Church Slavonic sunu, and the Romanic words (French songe, Spanish sueño, Italian sogno all from Latin somnium (from PIE *swep-no-; cognate with Greek hypnos; see somnolence; Old English swefn is from the same root). Dream in the sense of “ideal or aspiration” is from 1931, from earlier sense of “something of dream-like beauty or charm” (1888).


c.1200 in the current sense, from dream (n.). Old English verb dremen meant “rejoice; play music.” Related: Dreamed; dreaming.


  1. A series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.

In addition to the idioms beginning with dream

  • dream come true, a
  • dream up

also see:

  • pipe dream
  • sweet dreams
  • wouldn’t dream of
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