We're working on a new site. Click here to get a sneak preview.
Word of the Day


audio pronunciation
January 11, 2013
noun plural
: objects or activities used to relate classroom teaching to the real life especially of peoples studied
Among the realia used for the class's lesson on World War II was a helmet and canteen that had belonged to one student’s great-grandfather.

"It's common knowledge that eighth grade is one of life's low points. Here, it literally makes Ginny Davis sick. Photo-collages of poems, notes, text and chat messages, comics, realia of all sorts and, especially, food document the descent of Ginny's school year." — From a book review in Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2012
Get the Word of the Day direct to your inbox — subscribe today!
Did You Know?
"Realia," as defined above, was first used in the late 19th century, and is still mostly used in the classroom by teachers, especially foreign language teachers. It is also used in library cataloguing (in reference to such bizarre things as an author's hair and teeth donated posthumously) and occasionally finds its way into other contexts as well. You might, for example, hear of someone putting "realia"—objects that represent present-day life—in a time capsule. "Realia" is also sometimes used philosophically to distinguish real things from the theories about them—a meaning that dates to the early 19th century. "Realia" is one of those plural formations without a corresponding singular form. Like "memorabilia" ("memorable things" or "mementos"), "juvenilia" ("works produced in an artist's or author's youth"), and "marginalia" ("marginal notes or embellishments"), it incorporates the Latin plural ending "-ia."

Test Your Memory: What former Word of the Day begins with "p" and can mean "of or relating to college living or its regulation"? The answer is ...
More Words of the Day
Visit our archives to see previous selections.
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears