ide·​al·​ism ī-ˈdē-(ə-)ˌliz-əm How to pronounce idealism (audio)
: the practice of forming ideals or living under their influence
: something that is idealized
: a theory that ultimate reality lies in a realm transcending phenomena
: a theory that the essential nature of reality lies in consciousness or reason
: a theory that only the perceptible is real
: a theory that only mental states or entities are knowable
: 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 Airbnb was a great business idea, and its founders’ idealism still trickles down. Peter Vanham, Fortune, 24 Aug. 2023 But as with all planets, Jupiter has a shadow side, which manifests as excess, blind idealism, and laziness. Narayana Montúfar, Women's Health, 13 Aug. 2023 WeWork was built on the idealism and charisma of Neumann, who started the business in 2010 with the designer Miguel McKelvey. Time, 9 Aug. 2023 Ted’s gentle idealism clashes with his players’ need to achieve actual goals—as in, the ones scored into nets—after their previous victory. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 15 Mar. 2023 There’s a world in which the film adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s novel Red, White & Royal Blue captures the horny energy and political idealism of its source material. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Aug. 2023 Read full article Over the next decade, Trudeau, with his wife and their three children, shrewdly crafted an image that became integral to his rapid ascent — that of a modern husband, father, and political figure, who would go on to win votes with a mix of idealism and glamour. Norimitsu Onishi,, 9 Aug. 2023 Arnold came to see the idealism of the early weeks of their relationship as the first stage of aspiration. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, 6 Mar. 2023 His idealism about racial slurs — that by using them people can sap them of their malign power — goes unquestioned. Alex Traub, New York Times, 27 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'idealism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of idealism was circa 1743

Dictionary Entries Near idealism

Cite this Entry

“Idealism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ide·​al·​ism ī-ˈdē-(ə-)ˌliz-əm How to pronounce idealism (audio)
: the practice of forming ideals or living under their influence
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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