vanish into thin air


vanish into thin air (idiom)
/ˈvænɪʃ ɪntu θɪn ɛr/

Other Variants

  • disappear into thin air
  • melt into thin air
  • evaporate into thin air


  • to disappear suddenly and completely, without leaving a trace.
  • to become impossible to find or recover, often unexpectedly.
  • to cease to exist or become insignificant abruptly.

Example Sentence

  1. The magician’s assistant seemed to vanish into thin air, leaving the audience in awe.
  2. The important documents vanished into thin air, causing a delay in the project.
  3. All her doubts vanished into thin air as soon as she saw the final results.
  4. The suspect vanished into thin air before the police could apprehend him.
  5. My keys seem to have vanished into thin air; I’ve searched everywhere and can’t find them.

Origin and History

William Shakespeare’s works, particularly his plays “Othello” and “The Tempest,” are closely associated with the origins of the idiom.

“Othello” (1604): The phrase “vanish into air” appears for the first time. In Act III, Scene 1, the Clown tells the musicians to leave, effectively using “vanish into air” as a command for them to disappear without a trace. This instance sets the stage for the phrase’s eventual evolution.

“The Tempest” (1610): Shakespeare comes even closer to the modern phrase in Act IV, Scene 1, where Prospero says, “These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air.” Here, Shakespeare uses the term “thin air” to vividly depict something dissolving or disappearing completely.

Evolution and Popularization

While Shakespeare provided the foundational imagery and structure, the exact phrase “vanish into thin air” does not appear in his works verbatim. Over time, later writers and speakers combined the phrases “vanish into air” and “melted into thin air” to form the idiom we use today.

19th Century Usage

In its complete form, the first recorded use of “vanish into thin air” dates back to the 19th century. An example from The Edinburgh Advertiser in April 1822 discusses political visions vanishing “into thin air,” indicating the idiom was well-understood and used in public discourse by this time.

Shakespeare’s powerful imagery ensured that the phrase entered common usage, with references appearing in various literary works throughout the centuries. The adaptability of the idiom allowed it to transcend its original context and become a universal way to describe the act of disappearing without a trace.

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