ide·​al·​ist | \ ī-ˈdē-(ə-)list How to pronounce idealist (audio) , ˈī-(ˌ)dē-\

Definition of idealist

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one guided by ideals especially : one that places ideals before practical considerations
2a : an adherent of a philosophical theory of idealism
b : an artist or author who advocates or practices idealism in art or writing



Definition of idealist (Entry 2 of 2)

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Examples of idealist in a Sentence


an idealist sees the best in everyone, regardless of how they behave


an idealist attempt to make a go of a mom-and-pop hardware store on Main Street

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sophie Taeuber-Arp, the abstract artist who died in 1943 at the age of fifty-three, was the most exquisitely chastened of all the idealists of her generation. Jed Perl, The New York Review of Books, "A Master of Mute Forms," 7 Mar. 2019 Ward, originally from Brooklyn, is an idealist who wants to end the corruption in Boston. Matthew Gilbert,, "‘City on a Hill’ isn’t exactly a Boston version of ‘The Wire,’ but it has potential," 12 June 2019 But Leys was no idealist in seeing the party as already dead. Ian Johnson, The New York Review of Books, "China’s ‘Black Week-end’," 17 June 2019 But then the Warriors, as an organization, have the idealist gene. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Classy Warriors go old school to congratulate Raptors on NBA championship," 17 June 2019 That idealist optimism lies in stark contrast to other images that arise among another faction of Trump-supporting art. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "To Trump fans, #MAGA is more than a slogan. It’s an aesthetic.," 8 Aug. 2018 For every Lamb victory, there are at least as many idealists who fire up online activists and donors — only to fall in defeat when their progressive ideas are rejected by the voters who actually matter. Time, "Democrats Shouldn't Get Too Cocky About Their Big Win in Trump Country," 14 Mar. 2018 That near-mythical place where idealists, romantics, and wanderers wash up, drifting in and dropping out, a sense of it glimpsed in Palermo, Antananarivo, Brazzaville. Horatio Clare, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why You Should Go to Belize Now," 21 Dec. 2018 The architects of the new order were not utopian idealists. Robert Kagan, WSJ, "The Cost of American Retreat," 7 Sep. 2018

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


1803, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1856, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for idealist

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for idealist

The first known use of idealist was in 1803

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More from Merriam-Webster on idealist

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for idealist

Spanish Central: Translation of idealist

Nglish: Translation of idealist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of idealist for Arabic Speakers

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