The term pareidolia (pronounced /pæraɪˈdoʊliə/), referenced in 1994 by Steven Goldstein, describes a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hidden messages on records played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek para- —"beside", "with" or "alongside"—and eidolon—"image" (the diminutive of eidos—"image", "form", "shape"). Pareidolia is a type of apophenia (the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.)
Last updated by Nelson Mar 5, 2009.