ide·​al·​ism | \ ī-ˈdē-(ə-)ˌliz-əm How to pronounce idealism (audio) , ˈī-(ˌ)dē-\

Definition of idealism

1a : the practice of forming ideals or living under their influence
b : something that is idealized
2a(1) : a theory that ultimate reality lies in a realm transcending phenomena
(2) : a theory that the essential nature of reality lies in consciousness or reason
b(1) : a theory that only the perceptible is real
(2) : a theory that only mental states or entities are knowable
3 : literary or artistic theory or practice that affirms the preeminent value of imagination as compared with faithful copying of nature — compare realism

Examples of idealism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

How, in other words, can African Americans endure in a country that preaches such idealism but delivers such misery? Ron Charles, Dallas News, "In Colson Whitehead's 'The Nickel Boys,' an idealistic black teen learns a harsh reality," 9 July 2019 So many other problems beset him, all coming fast, unpredictably, and aggravated by his idealism. Titus Techera, National Review, "A Teacher Confronts Reality," 26 June 2019 But idealism only goes so far when money is at stake, and Lyft seems less committed to taking cars off the road than profiting from that shift. Alison Griswold, Quartz, "Lyft doesn’t seem to care that much about ending car ownership," 10 June 2019 Roosevelt was criticized for a Wilsonian idealism, presenting the Four Freedoms as abstractions, as universal. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "A Closer Look at Rockwell’s Four Freedoms," 22 June 2019 And though the celebration seems to embody an idealism that feels almost outdated in 2019, participating is a good way to be convinced that art is for everyone, and that it’s vital to a humanist vision of the world. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Fête de la Musique, the worldwide midsummer musical bash, explained," 21 June 2019 The lyrics, loaded with metaphors and aphorisms, fire off honest observations about art versus commerce, pragmatism versus idealism, and the struggle to love amid jealousy and doubt. Ashley Lee,, "Anais Mitchell on the very public evolution of ‘Hadestown’ in the digital age," 4 June 2019 Be aware of how idealism can cause financial missteps on or near Wednesday, June 23, as your planetary ruler, Venus, faces off with optimistic Jupiter across your axis of personal and shared wealth. Randon Rosenbohm, Allure, "What June's Taurus Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 29 May 2019 Use your vigor, idealism, and drive to organize protests and marches, or even create a crazy weird political art display like in Sorry to Bother You or create a weird web series about politics. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "What Your Zodiac Sign Says About How You Should Prep for The 2018 Midterms," 11 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'idealism.' 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 idealism

circa 1743, in the meaning defined at sense 2a(1)

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Statistics for idealism

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for idealism

The first known use of idealism was circa 1743

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English Language Learners Definition of idealism

: the attitude of a person who believes that it is possible to live according to very high standards of behavior and honesty

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Comments on idealism

What made you want to look up idealism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to complain fretfully

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