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

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 Impossible idealism, intense commitment, immense difficulty, internecine political negotiations, and sometimes bitter rivalry, have been the hallmarks of polio eradication from the very beginning. Karen Bartlett, Newsweek, "Eradicating the Last 1% of Polio Is Deadly but Essential," 28 Nov. 2014 In two acts directed by Bartlett Sher, Lin-Manuel Miranda led an astonishing cast while playing King Arthur, a monarch torn between idealism and the realities of leadership. Ian Malone, Vogue, "Camelot Ruled the Stage at Lincoln Center Theater’s Benefit Gala," 5 Mar. 2019 But Ford’s idealism is one that many survivors feel. Josephine Yurcaba, Marie Claire, "How to Support the Survivors In Your Life This Week," 9 Oct. 2018 Over the course of his short but already notable career, director Damien Chazelle has shown a penchant for stripping away romanticized idealism to expose the more honest, human truths hidden underneath. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "First Man is one of the most intense space movies of all time," 12 Sep. 2018 And the energy and the idealism is on the far left, and the money and the practicality is more toward the center. Fox News, "Democrats eye 'fresh face' for 2020," 19 July 2018 But Facebook’s purported idealism is its center of gravity, the thesis around which the company’s other arguments revolve. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Facebook’s Innocence Project," 10 Apr. 2018 Asking the foremost tech giants to self-police by virtue of a governing document harkens back to the idealism of the nascent Web and Berners-Lee isn’t misguided in pointing out that his baby needs saving. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Tim Berners-Lee Wants a 'Magna Carta' to Save the Modern Internet. He's Way Too Late.," 8 Nov. 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

28 Mar 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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a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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