plural noun

re·​a·​lia rē-ˈa-lē-ə How to pronounce realia (audio)
: objects or activities used to relate classroom teaching to the real life especially of peoples studied

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Realia, was first used in the late 19th century, and is still mostly used in the classroom by teachers, especially foreign language teachers. It is also used in library cataloguing (in reference to such bizarre things as an author's hair and teeth donated posthumously) and occasionally finds its way into other contexts as well. You might, for example, hear of someone putting "realia"-objects that represent present-day life-in a time capsule. "Realia" is also sometimes used philosophically to distinguish real things from the theories about them-a meaning that dates to the early 19th century. "Realia" is one of those plural formations without a corresponding singular form. Like "memorabilia" ("memorable things" or "mementos"), "juvenilia" ("works produced in an artist's or author's youth"), and "marginalia" ("marginal notes or embellishments"), it incorporates the Latin plural ending "-ia."

Word History


Late Latin, neuter plural of realis real

First Known Use

1894, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of realia was in 1894


Dictionary Entries Near realia

Cite this Entry

“Realia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

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