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Face on Mars: an example of pareidolia.


From Ancient Greek; παρα (para, amiss, wrong) + εἴδωλον (eídōlon, image).



pareidolia (countable and uncountable, plural pareidolias)

  1. The tendency to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the observer, such as interpreting marks on Mars as canals, seeing shapes in clouds, or hearing hidden messages in music.
    • 1993, Raymond Moody, with Paul Perry, Reunions: Visionary encounters with departed loved ones, page 13
      Pareidolia underlies several forms of divination.
    • 2006, Steve W. Martin, Heavy Hitter Selling: How Successful Salespeople Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy, page 150,
      Pareidolias aren't solely limited to images. When I was a youngster, I remember listening to The Beatles' song "Strawberry Fields" over and over to hear what seemed to be "I buried Paul."
    • 2010, Rick Emmer, Loch Ness Monster: Fact Or Fiction?, page 81
      The most famous example of pareidolia is the familiar face of the Man in the Moon.

Related terms[edit]