ide·​al·​ist | \ī-ˈdē-(ə-)list, 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

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 That may be because the idealist in Roberts can’t comprehend someone would go to those lengths just to play athletics at a different school. Mick Mccabe, Detroit Free Press, "MHSAA's Jack Roberts announces retirement after 32 years as exec director," 24 Apr. 2018 The cold war produced a hybrid between the Hamiltonian approach—international engagement favouring American interests, particularly those of business—and the internationalist and idealist Wilsonians. The Economist, "Donald Trump is undermining the rules-based international order," 7 June 2018 Nobody in this play is more lost than Ed Devery, a lawyer who’d once been a crusading idealist, before becoming Harry’s hired gun and a drunk. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Born Yesterday' heroine calls her own shots in American Players Theatre remake," 26 June 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

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for idealist

The first known use of idealist was in 1803

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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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