surreal

adjective
sur·​re·​al | \ sə-ˈrē(-ə)l also -ˈrā-əl How to pronounce surreal (audio) \

Definition of surreal

1 : marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream also : unbelievable, fantastic surreal sums of money

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Other Words from surreal

surreality \ (ˌ)sə-​rē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce surreality (audio) \ noun
surreally adverb

Did You Know?

In 1924 a group of European poets, painters, and filmmakers founded a movement that they called Surrealism. Their central idea was that the unconscious mind (a concept Sigmund Freud had recently made famous) was the source of all imagination, and that art should try to express its contents. The unconscious, they believed, revealed itself most clearly in dreams. The Surrealist painters included René Magritte, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dalí, whose "limp watches" painting became the best-known Surrealist image of all. Since those years, we've used surreal to describe all kinds of situations that strike us as dreamlike. And even though the Surrealist movement ended long ago, surrealism now seems to be everywhere—not just in painting, literature, and movies but also in blogs, video games, and graphic novels.

Examples of surreal in a Sentence

Despite all the hassle, though, I would not want an ordinary name. I know of one other person in the world who shares my name, first and last. I know nothing about her except that she lived in New York at the same time I did, and that she and I subscribed to a few of the same publications. I found myself in the surreal position of having to explain to circulation departments that I was, in fact, me, and not that other version of me on the West Side. — Johnna Kaplan, Newsweek, 3 Mar. 2008 Films aren't just a part of life for people in India; they are a way of life. The over-the-top, surreal dance numbers in nearly every Bollywood film often make no sense in relation to the story, but no one seems to be complaining. — Shashank Samant, The Out Traveler, May/June 2005 The movie achieves a truly rare mix of the absurd, the surreal, and the heartfelt. Improbably, its wacked-out premise and structural hilarity concoct a melancholy meditation on love, loss, and memory, while delivering a message—subversive to our culture's therapeutic optimism—about the tragedy of healing. — Rand Richards Cooper, Commonweal, 23 Apr. 2004 The whole thing was completely surreal.
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Recent Examples on the Web Meanwhile, Yvie took a slow-and-surreal approach with her mirrored headpiece and bloody makeup turning her into some interdimensional zombie priestess. The Atlantic, "The 15 Best TV Moments of 2019," 19 Dec. 2019 Then the unexpected, or rather the surreal, happened: Donald Trump got elected president, despite the best efforts of the hierarchies of the DOJ, CIA, and FBI to prevent that nightmare. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "A Russian Under Every Bed," 17 Dec. 2019 Capó Crucet described the interaction as hostile, surreal and strange. Amir Vera And Natalie Johnson, CNN, "Georgia college students burned the books of a Latina author," 11 Oct. 2019 My life is 50 percent complete fun and creative and crazy and sparkly and just insane and very surreal, and the other 50 percent is hard business, meetings, emails, budgets, touring, and lawyers and contracts. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sigrid Plans to Be Around for a Long Time," 11 Mar. 2019 His work is also closely related to the Cuban neo-Baroque writers José Lezama Lima and Alejo Carpentier, both of whom are mindful of the continent’s strange, even surreal, landscape and its mysterious history. Edmund White, Harper's magazine, "Existential Noir," 6 Jan. 2020 The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Jan. 5 (Heilongjiang, China): Visitors to China’s northernmost province can take in surreal ice lanterns and sculptures spread across four theme parks. National Geographic, "What are your New Year's travel resolutions?," 31 Dec. 2019 His own personal favorite title sequence actually dates back to the 1980s: the wacky, surreal stop-motion animation at the start of the opening credits for Peewee's Playhouse. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The 2010s were a veritable golden age of opening credits in television," 30 Dec. 2019 Night Theater captures what happens that night as the surreal premise gives way to a broader discussion of health care, mortality and the afterlife. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "Here Are the 12 New Books You Should Read in January," 27 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surreal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of surreal

1937, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for surreal

back-formation from surrealism

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Time Traveler for surreal

Time Traveler

The first known use of surreal was in 1937

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Statistics for surreal

Last Updated

23 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Surreal.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Surrealist. Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for surreal

surreal

adjective
How to pronounce surreal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of surreal

: very strange or unusual : having the quality of a dream

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More from Merriam-Webster on surreal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for surreal

Spanish Central: Translation of surreal

Nglish: Translation of surreal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surreal for Arabic Speakers

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