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 But if the pandemic made things worse in this country of 32 million, the electorate’s frustration, built on a history of bizarre political scandals that have seemed at times to veer into magical realism, goes back much further. Washington Post, 3 June 2021 Avengers Campus will lean on its three shows to come alive and inject a bit of magical realism into such a down-to-earth setting. Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2021 DeSantis painted images of corn with vibrant colors of pink, green and blue, in the form of magical realism, a style popular in Latin America that weaves fantasy into everyday life. Stephanie García,, 7 May 2021 Few debates over Latin American literatures devolve into persnickety hair-splitting more quickly than quarrels over the question of what constitutes magical realism., 6 May 2021 Simverse is set up to be a community for all simulation-style games that put an emphasis on realism. Aj Dellinger, Wired, 26 May 2021 Cleary was one of the first children’s writers to focus on emotional realism, honestly tackling topics including financial struggles, bullying and sibling rivalry. Kathy Ehrich Dowd, Time, 26 Mar. 2021 His films were known for attitude and realism but what was special about them, what has given them the stamina to endure across generations, is their openness to feel and be felt. Jason Parham, Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar. 2021 As a kind of diary of her inspirations, Fujii’s music troubles the divide between abstraction and realism. New York Times, 17 Mar. 2021

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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Learn More About realism

Time Traveler for realism

Time Traveler

The first known use of realism was in 1817

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Statistics for realism

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Realism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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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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