idealism

noun ide·al·ism \ ī-ˈdē-(ə-)ˌliz-əm , ˈī-(ˌ)dē- \
|Updated on: 20 Jun 2018

Definition of idealism

1 a (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
2 a : the practice of forming ideals or living under their influence
b : something that is idealized
3 : literary or artistic theory or practice that affirms the preeminent value of imagination as compared with faithful copying of nature — compare realism

Recent Examples of idealism from the Web

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.

First Known Use of idealism

circa 1743

in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

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IDEALISM Defined for English Language Learners

idealism

Definition of idealism for English Language Learners

  • : 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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