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

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
Recent Examples on the Web The series garnered widespread acclaim from critics, who pointed to its scientific realism and political relevance. Andrew Liptak, The Week, 28 June 2022 With elements of social realism and coming of age, the novel lives and breathes Oakland. Dorany Pinedastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2022 California’s political leaders need big doses of energy realism and energy humanism. Robert Bryce, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2022 None of this should be read as a jeremiad against difficult, encyclopedic texts—The Books of Jacob is a refreshing reprieve from a ketogenic diet of Iowa realism and Rooneyesque alienation. Jake Bittle, The New Republic, 2 Mar. 2022 It’s a thing, splitting a stylistic difference between realism and abstraction. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 7 Feb. 2022 The paintings in his new exhibition offer a compelling mix of realism and abstraction. Jacopo Prisco, CNN, 5 Feb. 2022 Costar Theo Rossi makes a strong showing as well, bringing a knowing edge to a film that rides the line between working-class realism and pure genre thrills. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Jan. 2022 Indeed, this realism is nearly the final step in bridging the virtual world with the real. Forbes, 24 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of realism

1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of realism was in 1817

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Last Updated

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Realism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for realism


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

More from Merriam-Webster on realism

Nglish: Translation of realism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of realism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about realism


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