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)

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 Oleg, an idealist, committed treason in season four to protect the world from biological warfare. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Americans spends its penultimate episode raising lots of very big questions," 24 May 2018 Today, such developments seem far less likely, and the Trump administration is more realist and less idealist than other post-Cold War American presidencies. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Trump’s Iran Gambit," 8 June 2018 As often as the idealists may protest, European soccer is not a reflection of society, but a relief from it. Bruce Jenkins,, "Best of the World Cup: when cultures mix," 6 July 2018 The promised utopia of infinite streaming, diverse festival bills and more respectful dudes at shows is, to put it mildly, not turning out quite like idealists hoped, especially for newer or independent acts. August Brown,, "On new record 'Burn,' Little Boots tries to see if the future really is female," 9 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of idealist


1803, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1856, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about idealist

Statistics for idealist

Last Updated

12 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for idealist

The first known use of idealist was in 1803

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on idealist

What made you want to look up idealist? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!