surreal

adjective
sur·​re·​al | \sə-ˈrē(-ə)l also -ˈrā-əl \

Definition of surreal 

(Entry 1 of 3)

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

Adjective

surreality \ (ˌ)sə-​rē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē \ 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

Adjective

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: Adjective

Tilly Grimes’s neutral-colored leisurewear, and Pat Collins’s clinical lighting intensified both the real and the surreal, and soprano Sharleen Joynt excelled as Winnie, Martha’s unhappy daughter, now forever shut out of her mother’s realm. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O18 Review: Arias and Alzheimer’s," 28 Sep. 2018 To be a part of the crown feels both ridiculously special and surreal. Ruby Buddemeyer, Marie Claire, "Everything We Know About 'The Crown' Season 3," 27 July 2018 By knocking out Spain, Russia also did its bit to add to the air of the surreal that, most likely, will be the abiding memory of this World Cup. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Russia Finally Falls, Leaving a Trail of Admirers and Doubters," 8 July 2018 Her paintings have also spanned continents and the 20th century in their subject matter: indigenous patterns, stark Modernism, the surreal and the abstract — bound by a keen understanding of materials. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Why Luchita Hurtado at 97 is the hot discovery of the Hammer's 'Made in LA' biennial," 5 July 2018 Add the presence of four of Latin music's biggest names -- Carlos Vives, Maluma, Yuri and Laura Pausini -- to that equation and the pressure multiplies in the most surreal of ways, Infante said. Justin Aguila, Billboard, "Billboard's Latin Artist On The Rise: Lupita Infante's On Mariachi & Legendary Grandfather Pedro Infante's Influence," 23 June 2018 Both bands are high-energy, surreal and satirical, and both love to put on a show. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit music: Downtown Brown, Amino Acids, AM People, free JR JR show," 14 June 2018 Indeed, the image is otherworldly and surreal, in many ways more like a painting in a museum than a photograph from a geopolitical summit. An Xiao Mina, The Atlantic, "That Merkel Photo Is More Like a Meme Than a Renaissance Painting," 11 June 2018 The play is such a sacred document for me and so many others—studied, obsessed over, revered in HBO mini-series form, quoted for years—that to encounter it in the flesh, in all its grandeur and abundance, is almost surreal. Richard Lawson, Vanities, "Review: Angels in America Returns to Broadway in All Its Triumph and Tragedy," 26 Mar. 2018

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

Adjective

1937, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for surreal

Adjective

back-formation from surrealism

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Learn More about surreal

Dictionary Entries near surreal

surprisingly

surr

surra

surreal

surrealism

surrealistic

surrebut

Statistics for surreal

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surreal

The first known use of surreal was in 1937

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More Definitions for surreal

surreal

adjective

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

Spanish Central: Translation of surreal

Nglish: Translation of surreal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surreal for Arabic Speakers

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