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What Are Dreams? Meaning, Interpretation, and Dictionary

What does it mean to dream about flying, or death or about needles? Discover all the hidden meanings in our dream dictionary.

Have you ever had the burning desire to interpret one of your dreams after a particularly unsettling night?  Aside from the physiological function of healing our bodies, sleeping, and in this case, dreaming, has a substantial emotional impact on us because our cognitive areas are accessed. Continue reading our dream dictionary for insight into the hidden meanings of your dreams.

What are dreams

We could interpret dreams from either a physiological standpoint or from a psychological one. 

Physically, dreaming represents the images created by our subconscious mind while we sleep. During this process,  our brain produces feelings or imagery that aren't connected to real life, but it can generate emotions such as happiness, hate, and sexual desire. 

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In the initial phases of sleep, that only lasts a few minutes each; we begin our descent into a dream world although we don't start dreaming just yet. There are four stages of non-REM sleep when muscle activity slows down and breathing is decreased, followed by REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

The REM phase makes up 20% of the time we spend sleeping, and it's distinguishable by a random/rapid movement of the eyes, irregular breathing, accompanied by low muscle tone throughout the body, and the propensity of the sleeper to dream vividly. 

Therefore,  the majority of our dreams take place during the REM phase  (can also occur before that, in non-REM sleep, but it's less frequent) and it's one of the reasons we can only remember the dreams we had in the last minutes before waking up. 

Dreaming also has a psychological significance because of the  emotional influence it has on us. 

The meaning of dreams and their function as oracles 

This emotional impact is what drives us to look for answers and dream interpretations. 

Dreams have been subject for debate for many years, and there are many myths about them, superstitions, and preconceived ideas which at times have made it difficult to distinguish between true or false interpretations. We have, however, a handy dream dictionary that can help us understand what we dream of and why it happens. 

Sigmund Freud was responsible for starting the modern revolution of dream interpreting, and it all came about with the arrival of psychoanalysis. 

Freud believed that his theory of psychoanalysis represented the third blow dealt with our egos by science. The first hit came when Copernicus formulated the idea that the Sun, and not the Earth, is at the centre of the universe; the second when Darwin shattered the notion that we were specially created; and in the 20th century, the third blow came from Freud who revealed that humans are not in full control of their minds. 

According to Freud's theory of psychoanalysis, dreams originate in hidden emotions that surface while we sleep, and therefore they represent expressions of our desires.  The most important thing, however, is that Freud introduced dream interpretation. 

The main thing to remember is that dreams are not meant to be interpreted in a literal way. Considering that our subconscious mind is responsible for the  distorted images we dream of, which function as symbols, an oracle is needed to decipher our future. 

Benefits of the dream dictionary in 23 examples

There are some general interpretations of reoccurring dreams, such as flying or falling teeth, or a sexual encounter. The more we enter REM sleep, the more curious our dreams get, but even the most far-fetched dream has its hidden meaning. 

We can use the dream dictionary as a guide, an important source of insight and life lessons. Have a look at our glossary below and read about the most common dream interpretations. 

1. Needles

Dreaming about needles is more frequent than we imagine. It represents a warning sign regarding certain anxieties that we may have, sorrows or fears. The context of the dream determines its exact interpretation but, generally speaking, this type of dream urges you to pay more attention to a problem you may be faced with.     

2. Bullet wounds

Who here hasn't lived through the terrifying dream of getting shot at? The meaning depends on the context of the dream: getting shot in the arm has a different significance than getting shot inside a house. Generally speaking,  bullet wounds represent pain from the past or cautionary symbols of future betrayal.  

3. Prison Dream

Dreaming about being in jail doesn't have to mean you are about to get detained, but it does serve as an invitation to face the changes in your life with courage. It introduces an important moment in our lives when we must free ourselves of certain chains to embark on a successful transformation. 

4. Money

Finding money in our dreams is a frequent occurrence. It represents us getting closer to realizing our goals, both in love and business. It encourages us to be hopeful and eager about starting new projects, and money is also connected to power, self-esteem, and sexuality. 

5. Staircases

Another common dream, which informs us about  overcoming a difficult situation (if we go up the stairs) or about a process of descent. According to our dream dictionary, the meaning also depends on the material the stairs are made out of, as well as if we go up or down the stairs alone, if the stairs are broken, and so on. 

6. End of the world

Dreaming about an apocalypse or natural disasters that threaten to end the world is another type of reoccurring dream. Although it may feel terrifying, the message could be positive: it advertises  the end of a stage in your life and the start of a new one. Depending on the context of the dream you will decide how to mitigate the consequences of that termination.

7. Maggots

If you have been dreaming about maggots, you need to be careful as they symbolize  conflict, violence, degradation, or financial ruin. It also warns you about someone wanting to hurt you. Remember, however, that dreams don't have an immediate reflection on reality: it's only a cautionary tale so that we can be prepared. 

8. Ants

Depending on our cultural background, the meaning of ant dreams could vary greatly. Some people interpret them as symbols of hardship and illness. Others, however, see them as markers of prosperity and hard work that can also translate into their future and benefit personal growth and success. 

9. Floods

Water is another element that keeps popping up in our dreams. When we dream about floods it could represent problems, failure and the inability of finding a solution. When the waters are calm, however, and we find ourselves floating about, it could simply reflect a  necessity for introspection. 

10. Jewellery 

This is a symbol of abundance and progress in many areas of our lives. It could foretell praise and compliments from many people, or that our economy will go through a prosperous stage, or perhaps that our love life is full of pleasure and satisfaction. 

11. Koalas

Not a very common dream, but if you happen to come across a koala in your dreams, pay close attention to its significance: according to our dream dictionary, it represents balance and peacefulness. You're probably going through  an especially sensitive moment, you're relaxed and calm, and dreaming about a koala is an invitation to maintain that state of mind. 

12. Keys dream meaning

Keys are tools that help us open doors and go from one room to another or enter a place we want to be in. Keys represent change, and above all, they're an invitation to start reflecting more. Having this dream begs the question of  whether or not you have something you want to change about your life and depending on the context of the dream, you might find the solution. 

13. Death

Dreaming about death is more common than we would like it to be. If we're the ones dying it could be because we are about to experience personal growth. If we dream about  the passing of a loved one, family member or friend, we are reminded of our strong bond with them, and if we dream about the death of someone who's already died, it could represent our desire to see them again. 

14. Children

Children symbolize purity but, in practical terms, dreaming about them is a warning that we should give up certain bad habits and return to the innocence of our youth. This type of dream could also indicate that we have certain unresolved issues in the past which we must address. 

15. Peeing

The reasons aren't fully clear, but sometimes we dream about peeing. In general terms, this symbolizes your self-control and lets you know that you are going through a stage of strengthening your self-esteem. It could also mean that you're freeing yourself of bad energies and detrimental people: much like an internal purge. 

16. Birds dream

When we dream about birds, it tends to have a positive meaning. We associate them with freedom, but please take note: the bird is the one actually flying, not you. This means that you are not ready to free yourself yet and that you should look at birds for inspiration. Dreaming about birds can very rarely have a negative significance; when we see flocks of birds, black or dead birds, that is a clear sign of misfortune.  

17. Cheese

Cheese is an element which reveals  important things about our professional and love life, but the implications depend on the context of the dream and the shape of the cheese. If we dream about a soft block of cheese, then the message is that of a happy life full of opportunity, but if a bit is missing from the cheese or it has holes in it, it could represent shortages in our lives. 

18. Rivers

Water makes another appearance in our dreams and this time it reflects the very essence of life. Dreaming about a river represents life, and we must be cautious with interpreting the context: the colour of the water, its flow, how clean it is and how we are positioned about it. This dream is an excellent indicator of where we are in life and also where we're headed to. 

19. Sex

We all enjoy having this dream, even though sometimes, we can have unpleasant surprises. Leading psychoanalysts, Sigmund Freud among them, have attributed a great significance to this type of dream because, according to them, it doesn't focus on sex itself but on the relationship we have with the given person. A sex dream, therefore, is easier to decipher if you look at your fears, your past traumas, and similarities that connect you to that person. 

20. Earthquakes

When we dream about an earthquake, we are, in essence, reliving a recent traumatic experience, such as a breakup or losing a job. This type of dream could also warn us about drastic changes in the future  and about having to keep our guard up. 

21. Urns

This is a strange dream that usually throws us off, and we end up not paying much attention to it: silly things from our subconscious mind. This is not quite so, because this dream  indicates a certain dependency on objects, people or behaviours, and it urges us to distance ourselves from any negative influence.  

22. Flying dreams

This is one of the most classic dreams people have; it represents absolute freedom. An important detail to remember is if the flight was smooth or bumpy, as this will offer insight into the significance of the dream. Be careful because Freud warned that this dream, more than the psychological aspect, could represent physical release and, therefore,  could be  referencing suppressed sexual desires. 

23. Shoes

Dreaming about shoes is always an invitation to reflect  on things, and it also provides important information for our lives. Did you dream about changing your shoes? Were they new or old? This could mean that we're about to embark on a new adventure in life or perhaps we are apprehensive about making the journey.