I have a friend who said something about phantasmagoric. That's not real, is it?

Yes, indeed, phantasmagoria and all of its phantasmagorically fabulous word forms have been around for at least a couple hundred years. Edgar Allan Poe showed his fondness for the long and magical-sounding term when he wrote The Fall of the House of Usher, which was first published in 1839.

Phantasmagoria fits Poe's spooky settings because the word itself refers to waves of rapidly changing elements, both real and imaginary, pulsing through scenes — like dreams adrift with specters and imaginary spirits.

Poe weaves phantasmagoric three times into his gloomy short story, The Fall of the House of Usher:

First in

While the objects around me — while the carvings of the ceilings, the sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled as I strode, were but matters to which, or to such as which, I had been accustomed from my infancy — while I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this — I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up.

Then later in

All is gray shadow — a weak and irregular remembrance — an indistinct regathering of feeble pleasures and phantasmagoric pains.

And finally, in

One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, partaking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be shadowed forth, although feebly, in words.