real

1 of 5

adjective

re·​al ˈrē(-ə)l How to pronounce real (audio)
1
a
: 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
realness noun

real

2 of 5

adverb

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

real

3 of 5

noun (1)

: a real thing
especially : a mathematically real quantity

real

4 of 5

noun (2)

re·​al rā-ˈäl How to pronounce real (audio)
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

real

5 of 5

noun (3)

re·​al rā-ˈäl How to pronounce real (audio)
plural reales rā-ˈä-(ˌ)lās How to pronounce real (audio) or reals
: a former monetary unit and coin of Spain and its possessions
Phrases
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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
But there’s something about the brothers’ music that inspires real passion. Brent Lang, Variety, 21 Feb. 2024 Because the data going out is only as good as the data being used to train the machine learning models that power AI, clean data and manual checkpoints overseen by a real person are imperative to the industry's trust in AI systems and their success overall. Mark Schwartz, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 This episode had everything: A confrontation between Michael and an on-his-way-to-Costa-Rica Toby (Paul Lieberstein), the first appearance by Holly Flax (the HR rep who would become Michael's great love), an almost-proposal from Jim to Pam, and a real proposal from Andy to Angela. Erin Strecker, EW.com, 21 Feb. 2024 At the time of the mother’s declaration, he is presumed blameless in the absence of evidence so, in a real sense, the law was on his side in that window. Tom Zoellner, SPIN, 21 Feb. 2024 There has to be a place where people of goodwill act in good faith to authentically discuss real issues and exchange points of view. John Matze, Fortune, 21 Feb. 2024 Dream Pairs Ankle Strap Ballet Flat, $31 with Prime For a literal take on ballet flats, check out this style from Dream Pairs that looks like a real pair of pointe shoes. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 9 Feb. 2024 Part of her intention was to correct the record on who the first real male cheerleaders were at a Super Bowl. Eric Adler, Kansas City Star, 9 Feb. 2024 Besides, their true soulful connection — the real intimacy between them —happens not between the sheets but in front of stoves and ovens. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 9 Feb. 2024
Adverb
After Arizona State quarterback Jake Plummer gave the Sun Devils the lead on a spectacular touchdown run, a pair of controversial pass interference penalties set the Buckeyes up real close to the goal line with a minute to go. Jon Hoefling, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2024 Not real tough to connect the dots when there are so few dots. Greg Cote, Miami Herald, 19 Feb. 2024 Georgetown just was slightly interested in me but didn’t go real heavy at me. Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer, 13 Feb. 2024 Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey play lovers in Fellow Travelers, and the costars got real close — partly due to a scene in which the Bridgeton star sucks on Bomer’s toe. Dana Rose Falcone, Peoplemag, 8 Feb. 2024 After two studies that collected feedback on how virtual cats affect human viewers, the researchers did indeed find that virtual cats can cause an unsettling feeling in viewers if the cats look real enough but not too real. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 25 Jan. 2024 Try this out: Blow up a balloon and tie it off real tight. Rhett Allain, WIRED, 21 Jan. 2024 But, just being real here, none of this guarantees that. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec. 2023 One of the earliest reports alleging that Reece Lewis was not real appeared on Reddit two years ago. Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica, 3 Jan. 2024
Noun
That tension, the real versus the ideal, crops up again and again in Flock’s project. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 Really a firebrand and visionary artist who could see the future and work diligently to try to make that future real. Garret K. Woodward, SPIN, 3 Feb. 2024 The creators of this HBO series had a huge task before them: make the unthinkable real. Valerie Wu, Variety, 7 Dec. 2023 As in those stories, the fantastical is a way to process the real in a tale in which the hero’s journey is a way to come to terms with a pain that is both personal and national. Lucas Trevor, Washington Post, 4 Dec. 2023 Shot in Quebec, the piece alludes to the possibilities offered by technology to experience emotions in two spaces simultaneously, one virtual, the other real. Ana María Caballero, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 But our ability to separate the real from the artificial may come down to personal biases—both our own, as well as that of AI’s underlying algorithms. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 15 Nov. 2023 Hollywood is a literal industry that made magic real and Napoleon (in this movie) hot. Vulture, 7 Nov. 2023 Correction: October 16, 2023 This story has been updated to remove a reference to the reals as an example of a number field. Kevin Hartnett, Quanta Magazine, 12 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'real.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Adverb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near real

Cite this Entry

“Real.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/real. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

real

1 of 4 adjective
re·​al ˈrē(-ə)l How to pronounce real (audio)
ˈri(-ə)l
1
: of, relating to, or made up of land and buildings
real property
2
a
: not artificial or fake : genuine
real leather
also : being exactly what the name implies
a real professional
b
: not imaginary : actual
real life
c
: belonging to or containing elements that belong to the set of real numbers
an equation with two real solutions
3
: absolute sense 1a, complete
there's a real surprise at the end
realness noun

real

2 of 4 adverb
: very entry 2 sense 1
we had a real good time

real

3 of 4 noun
re·​al
rā-ˈäl
plural reals or reales
-ˈäl-ās
: an old silver coin of Spain

real

4 of 4 noun
re·​al rā-ˈäl How to pronounce real (audio)
plural reals or reis
ˈrāsh,
ˈrās,
ˈrāzh,
ˈrāz
1
: the basic unit of money of Brazil
2
: a coin or bill representing one real
Etymology

Adjective

Middle English real "real, relating to things," from early French real (same meaning), derived from Latin res "thing, matter" — related to rebus, republic

Legal Definition

real

adjective
1
a
: 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
Etymology

Adjective

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

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