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

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: Noun Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill is an arena-rock idealist, a firm believer in the undying power of setting up shop at the 50-yard line of rock & roll expectations and doing very brisk business. Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone, "Kings of Leon Create an Arena-Rock of the Mind on ‘When You See Yourself’," 5 Mar. 2021 Having started in public life as a scrappy idealist, by the end of his career Mr. McDonald had become a power broker. Alex Traub, New York Times, "George McDonald, Power Broker for the Powerless, Dies at 76," 4 Feb. 2021 Strong words from an idealist, a dedicated French public servant, standing up for a subtle idea in an age of warring certainties. New York Times, "An Embattled Public Servant in a Fractured France," 1 Jan. 2021 Partly this is due to space limitations, but it’s also because Mr. Prochnik is primarily drawn to the youthful rebel and idealist in Heine. Adam Kirsch, WSJ, "‘Heinrich Heine’ Review: Song of the Outsider," 18 Dec. 2020 The architect, now 93, is a realist as well as an idealist. Blair Kamin,, "Column: A renowned Indian architect gets a Chicago showcase as Lincoln Park gallery celebrates Doshi’s humanistic designs," 18 Sep. 2020 Through her policies, Harris has gained a reputation for being a pragmatist rather than an idealist, and a centrist rather than a progressive. Ricki Harris, Wired, "With VP Kamala Harris, Joe Biden Gets a Digital Juggernaut," 11 Aug. 2020 Robert Weisberg, a Stanford law professor, said King was a true idealist. Otis R. Taylor Jr.,, "Open Vallejo, small nonprofit news site, strives to hold police accountable," 3 Aug. 2020 Portland State’s student-body president was an idealist. oregonlive, "Portland State’s first Black student-body president tried to ban football in 1969, advocated for ‘experimental college’," 31 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective These Thanksgiving remarks came seven months after Wilson led the country into World War I. Wilson, the son of a preacher, was one part scholar and one part politician, one part idealist and one part visionary. David M. Shribman, Los Angeles Times, "Giving thanks, expressing hope: presidential wishes at Thanksgiving," 25 Nov. 2020 Witnessing the best and worst of humanity helped make McCain both an idealist and pragmatist, as well as an unconventional, independent-minded senator who yet revered the Senate’s institutional traditions. Geoffrey Kabaservice, Washington Post, "A moving portrait of John McCain, in all his contradictions," 16 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for idealist

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The first known use of idealist was in 1803

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Last Updated

13 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Idealist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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