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 first, a full-view mode, which presents the entire screen delivering next-level realism to its picture quality. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "This LG TV’s Display Actually Rolls Into Its Base When You Tell It To Do So," 6 Mar. 2019 The novel has been rightly praised as a masterwork of realism, and the scenes are cacophonous with noises and pungent with smells. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: Black and White, in Wind and Fog," 22 Feb. 2019 And yet the obituary impulse is to simplify, to allow Roth to double—not on his own behalf, but on ours—as his own work of magical realism: both of his time and beyond it. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The Day the Genius Died," 23 May 2018 Two Days in Paris (2007) For sheer hilarious, messy, complicated realism, Two Days in Paris takes the prize. Vogue, "The 55 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time," 1 Feb. 2019 Gonzales so far has uncovered little-known works of satire, crime fiction, and urban realism from the middle to the end of the 20th century. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Series Exhumes Out-of-Print Books by Black Authors," 14 June 2018 That movie’s mockumentary realism and its jokes about capes, secret identities and the dangers of toxic, obsessive fandom were the perfect introduction (and indoctrination) to superheroes for those who couldn’t care less. Lindsey Bahr, Detroit Free Press, "Review: ‘Incredibles 2’ arrives in a brave new world," 14 June 2018 The effect is a spooky kind of realism that balances Sharp Objects’ more extravagant tendencies. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Twisted, Enthralling Rot of Sharp Objects," 7 July 2018 Sorry to Bother You, Tessa Thompson’s latest, is pure magical realism., "July Click List: R29 Entertainment Editors' Picks For The Month," 2 July 2018

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

23 Apr 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).


one that collects or salvages junk

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