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ide·​al·​ist ī-ˈdē-(ə-)list How to pronounce idealist (audio)
: one guided by ideals
especially : one that places ideals before practical considerations
: an adherent of a philosophical theory of idealism
: an artist or author who advocates or practices idealism in art or writing


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Examples of idealist in a Sentence

Noun an idealist sees the best in everyone, regardless of how they behave Adjective an idealist attempt to make a go of a mom-and-pop hardware store on Main Street
Recent Examples on the Web
Its characters, too, are contemporary: doppelgängers of our own vicious demagogues, cowed editors, greasy both-sides-ists and defanged idealists. Jesse Green, New York Times, 18 Mar. 2024 Those actions have obliterated his image as a noble idealist laboring to make the world safe for democracy and establish a secure postwar order. Thomas Doherty, The Conversation, 1 Feb. 2024 But some voters may no longer look up to the veteran congressman as a courageous idealist. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 6 Mar. 2024 Some of them, such as the British idealist philosopher T. H. Green and the French politician Léon Bourgeois, did, but others, such as the British philosopher and social scientist Herbert Spencer and the French economist Frédéric Bastiat, did not. Helena Rosenblatt, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 As the late Henry Kissinger said, every American president since Wilson has had to be in the democracy-promotion business and and something of a foreign policy idealist. TIME, 9 Jan. 2024 Rounding out the group is the good-trouble advocate Mrs. Clark (Cathleen Riddley) and her assistant, the guitar-strumming idealist Mr. Carawan (Brady Morales-Woolery), an actual person whose influential folk music and protest songs crossed multiple generations. David John Chávez, The Mercury News, 7 Feb. 2024 Having left the complications of home behind, young idealists have found a safe haven on the European Union’s eastern border. Adam Robb, Condé Nast Traveler, 15 Jan. 2024 In it, a young romantic idealist falls head over heels for a young woman. John Hopewell, Variety, 31 Oct. 2023
In each episode, Kaplan argues that although hubris, ambition, and hatred always lurk in the background, the knowledge of human imperfection and the limits of progress can liberate people to seek greater self-awareness and avoid idealist misadventures. Robert D. Kaplan, Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 Sweet floral scents have the same energy as their positive, idealist outlook on life. Bryce Jones, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Oct. 2023 Although Oppenheimer represented the idealist wing, who thought development of the bomb might lead to some good end, many of the physicists justified their work on purely empirical grounds. Longreads, 20 July 2023 But Weber’s idealist insights (that is, his focus on the way that ideals and beliefs direct other forces) should be supplemented with attention to structural forces. Nathan Wolff, Washington Post, 13 June 2023 Solo,introduced in the 1977 original as a Humphrey Bogart–style cynical materialist who turns idealist when circumstances demand it, dies because of that very same capacity for optimism. Vulture, 10 July 2023 Some of the best recent scholarship and thinking on work offers a mix of idealist and materialist approaches. Nathan Wolff, Washington Post, 13 June 2023 But even his aspirations to idealist fantasy would be short-lived. Globe Staff,, 12 Apr. 2023 Her sing-songy voice is the perfect vessel for Ephron's eloquent dialogue, which makes the character an endlessly charming romantic and idealist, perfectly balancing humorous cynicism and sincere emotion. Wesley Stenzel,, 27 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'idealist.' 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


1803, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1856, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of idealist was in 1803

Dictionary Entries Near idealist

Cite this Entry

“Idealist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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