re·​al | \ ˈrē(-ə)l How to pronounce real (audio) \

Definition of real

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : having objective independent existence unable to believe that what he saw was real
b : not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine real gold also : being precisely what the name implies a real professional
c(1) : occurring or existing in actuality saw a real live celebrity a story of real life
(2) : of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities left school to live in the real world
(3) : behaving or presented in a way that feels true, honest, or familiar and without pretension or affectation … That was the tragedy of Nurse Jackie … Great nurse. Flawed human being, and an irreparable one. That's also what made her real, and relatable, and what Falco brought so fully to the role …— Verne Gay On the afternoon of May 28, resident Rick Grant told The Enterprise as he waited with other grievers in the town hall's town-board room for his turn before a board, "We all want the same thing: Be real on the taxes, do a proper assessment, a fair assessment."The Altamont Enterprise For every follower of the PEANUTS comics knows about the Little Red-Haired Girl, the character who intrigues a shy Charlie Brown. Hem he does, and haw he will, and every reader fidgets, too, knowing that such moments are utterly human and all too real.— Alysia Gray-Painter We're living through strange times in America, but that hasn't stopped Chrissy Teigen from being her wonderfully authentic self on social media—from showing up to husband John Legend's Instagram Live concert in a towel to sharing some real talk about childbirth.— Abby Gardner Coach Tucker has always just kept it real with me from the start. … He's been one of the most honest coaches. He's not about the B.S., hype and all that.— Kameron Allen "The thing that makes college basketball so fascinating to me is that almost everyone's a hair away from the dream …. And, let's keep it real, a lot of them are in school just for the experience needed to get to the next level."— LL Cool J Do you actually think you left popularity contests behind in high school? Please, get real.— Jillian Mackenzie
(4) : existing as a physical entity and having properties that deviate from an ideal, law, or standard a real gas — compare ideal sense 1b
d : complete, utter a real fiasco
f : measured by purchasing power real income real dollars
g(1) : belonging to or having elements or components that belong to the set of real numbers the real roots of an equation a real matrix
(2) : concerned with or containing real numbers real analysis
(3) : real-valued real variable
2 : of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things (such as lands or tenements) real property
3 of a particle : capable of being detected — compare virtual sense 4
for real
1 : genuine couldn't believe the threats were for real
2 : genuinely good or capable of success (as in competition) not yet sure if this team is for real
3 : in earnest : seriously fighting for real



Definition of real (Entry 2 of 5)

chiefly US, informal
: very, really used as an intensifier It was a good furnace all last winter, they didn't have a single problem with it: it ran real quiet …— Garrison Keillor… the magazine isn't real sure who its readers are …— Tom Carson


noun (1)

Definition of real (Entry 3 of 5)

: a real thing especially : a mathematically real quantity


noun (2)
re·​al | \ rā-ˈäl How to pronounce real (audio) \

Definition of real (Entry 4 of 5)

1 plural reais\ ˈrāsh How to pronounce real (audio) , ˈrās , ˈrāzh , ˈrāz \ or reis also reals : the basic monetary unit of Brazil — see Money Table
2 plural reales or reis\ ˈrāsh How to pronounce real (audio) , ˈrās , ˈrāzh , ˈrāz \ : a former monetary unit and coin of Portugal


noun (3)
re·​al | \ rā-ˈäl How to pronounce real (audio) \
plural reales\ rā-​ˈä-​(ˌ)lās How to pronounce real (audio) \ or reals

Definition of real (Entry 5 of 5)

: a former monetary unit and coin of Spain and its possessions

Other Words from real


realness noun

Examples of real in a Sentence

Adjective The movie is based on real events. The detective Sherlock Holmes is not a real person. He has no real power; he is just a figurehead. The battle scenes in the movie seemed very real to me. The team has a real chance at winning. There is a very real possibility that we will be moving to Maine. In real life, relationships are not perfect. The actor looks taller on TV than he does in real life. He's always daydreaming and seems to be out of touch with the real world. What is his real name? Adverb We had a real good time. The water is real warm. We went to bed real late. See More

First Known Use of real


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1718, in the meaning defined above

Noun (1)

circa 1626, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1951, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (3)

1555, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for real


Middle English, real, relating to things (in law), from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin & Late Latin; Medieval Latin realis relating to things (in law), from Late Latin, real, from Latin res thing, fact; akin to Sanskrit rayi property

Noun (2)

Portuguese, from real royal, from Latin regalis

Noun (3)

Spanish, from real royal, from Latin regalis — more at royal

Learn More About real

Time Traveler for real

Time Traveler

The first known use of real was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near real



real account

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Statistics for real

Cite this Entry

“Real.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for real


re·​al | \ ˈrē-əl How to pronounce real (audio) , ˈrēl \

Kids Definition of real

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not imaginary : actual Blondie's real name is Ashley.
2 : not artificial : genuine real leather He's a real gentleman.



Kids Definition of real (Entry 2 of 2)

: very entry 1 sense 1 I had a real good time.

Choose the Right Synonym for real


real, actual, and true mean agreeing with known facts. real is used when a thing is what it appears to be. This is a real diamond. actual means that someone or something does or did occur or exist. Is Santa Claus an actual person? true may be used of something that is real or actual. It's a true story. It may also be used of something that agrees with a standard. A whale is not a true fish.



Legal Definition of real

1a : of or relating to real property a real action — see also real property at property
b in the civil law of Louisiana : attached to a thing rather than a person a real obligation is transferred along with the thing to which it is attached — see also real right — compare personal
2 : actual
3 : adjusted for inflation especially to reflect actual purchasing power real income

History and Etymology for real

Anglo-French, concerning land, property, or things (rather than persons), from Middle French, from Medieval Latin and Late Latin; Medieval Latin realis relating to things (in law), from Late Latin, actual, from Latin res thing, fact

More from Merriam-Webster on real

Nglish: Translation of real for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of real for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about real


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