re·​al·​ism | \ ˈrē-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce realism (audio) \

Definition of realism

1 : concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary
2a : a doctrine that universals exist outside the mind specifically : the conception that an abstract term names an independent and unitary reality
b : a theory that objects of sense perception or cognition exist independently of the mind — compare nominalism
3 : the theory or practice of fidelity in art and literature to nature or to real life and to accurate representation without idealization

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Examples of realism in a Sentence

He has a sense of realism about what can be done to improve the economy. The realism of her dream was alarming. the stark realism of the play
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Recent Examples on the Web

Delaney, who is also on the more moderate side of the field, did a better job of making the case for realism in legislating. James Pindell,, "Scorecard: How the Democratic primary candidates did during their first debate," 27 June 2019 Maybe that’s not a typical slice of Americana, but Jarmusch has never been much for realism. Mark Olsen,, "Indie Focus: The mournful zombie comedy of ‘The Dead Don’t Die’," 14 June 2019 For the larger of her two murals, which will employ the technique of realism, Miguel, 55, plans to paint Ford Model Ts on display in a showroom as life-size pedestrians peer inside the dealership. Janene Holzberg,, "Murals will bring artsy new look to Ellicott City's Main Street," 14 June 2019 Given the absurdity of backward time-travel, Wheeler’s experiment became an argument for anti-realism at the level of the quantum. Quanta Magazine, "Closed Loophole Confirms the Unreality of the Quantum World," 25 July 2018 The policy at BC Women’s is to lay out the potential outcomes for parents and to work with them to form a plan, aiming for realism without being overly discouraging. Eva Holland, WIRED, "Saving Baby Boy Green," 27 Mar. 2018 The new fad of nationalism on the right has brought many conservatives into agreement with the left on non-interventionism and realism. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Why Won’t American Politicians Talk about Chinese Authoritarianism?," 26 June 2019 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a passionate, sometimes violent, artist who developed a style that blended intense emotion and realism. Chris O'brien,, "A dusty old painting turned up in an attic in France. It may sell for $100 million," 25 June 2019 The choice is ultimately not between an Anglophone Europe and a truly polyglot Europe but between wishful thinking and realism. The Economist, "Brexit is the ideal moment to make English the EU’s common language," 15 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'realism.' 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 realism

1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for realism

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for realism

The first known use of realism was in 1817

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More Definitions for realism



English Language Learners Definition of realism

: the quality of a person who understands what is real and possible in a particular situation and is able to deal with problems in an effective and practical way
: the quality of being very much like real life : the quality of seeming to be real
: a style of art or literature that shows or describes people and things as they are in real life


re·​al·​ism | \ ˈrē-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce realism (audio) \

Kids Definition of realism

: willingness to face facts or to give in to what is necessary

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Comments on realism

What made you want to look up realism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characterized by aphorism

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