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 The film begins with airport surveillance footage of passengers boarding their flight, and the raw footage creates an eerie sense of realism. Nicole Ludden, azcentral, "Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the only reason to watch '7500,' Amazon Prime's hijacking thriller," 17 June 2020 Still, Da 5 Bloods is not a work of gritty realism. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Da 5 Bloods Is the Most Ambitious Film Spike Lee Has Ever Made," 12 June 2020 The result is language with an air of magical realism, as if tear gas was fired without anyone pulling a trigger and batons floated through the air to hit protesters. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Rethinking the Press’s Relationship with Police," 5 June 2020 That realism focuses on cutting costs to stanch the bleed of cash. Dominic Gates, Anchorage Daily News, "To survive the pandemic, Alaska Air prepares to shrink and shed thousands of jobs," 11 June 2020 And that has that has a kind of a feel of realism to me. CBS News, "Securing businesses and the 2020 elections amid COVID threat - transcript," 3 June 2020 John may share Justine’s realism, but his character lacks her clarity. Mallika Rao, The Atlantic, "The Melancholia Postulate," 9 May 2020 But in a strange way, trying to guess at outcomes and understand hidden hybrid genes has added shades of scientific realism. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Here's How to Grow All Animal Crossing Flowers," 13 Apr. 2020 Fortunately, there’s a way to see what’s happening in that alternate universe ... thanks to the incredible realism of baseball simulation games. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "MLB's opening day games go on as scheduled in simulation baseball world," 26 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for realism

Time Traveler

The first known use of realism was in 1817

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Statistics for realism

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Realism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for realism


How to pronounce realism (audio)

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

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