re·​al·​ist | \ ˈrē-ə-list How to pronounce realist (audio) \
plural realists

Definition of realist

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who recognizes what is real or possible in a particular situation : one who accepts and deals with things as they really are a political realist She considers herself a realist when it comes to parenting.
2 : a person (such as a writer or painter) who adheres to a style of realism by representing things in a way faithful to nature or to real life Chekhov was essentially more of a realist than Dostoevski, whose force often lay in a strong proclivity to melodrama …— Roger Shattuck



Definition of realist (Entry 2 of 2)

: in the style of realism : faithful in representation to nature or to real life realist paintings Though a number of Dahl's most engaging stories, particularly in his early career, are cast in a realist mode, his reputation is that of a writer of macabre, blackly jocose tales …— Joyce Carol Oates

Examples of realist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The sheen on his forehead and the mottling of youthful stubble show off a precocious mastery of realist oil painting. Samuel Reilly, 1843, "Enigmatic and erotic: the art of Félix Vallotton," 3 July 2019 But with his more rigid attention to detail, Mr. Therrien, typically grim-faced in photographs, was more of a realist, as shown in his recreation of an eight-foot-high folding table and chairs in 2007. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Robert Therrien, Sculptor, Dies at 71; He Made the Mundane Monumental," 24 June 2019 On the surface, their dynamic here has a similar energy, with Hemsworth playing the effortlessly handsome ne’er-do-well, and Thompson playing more of a sarcastic, cool-eyed realist. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Men in Black: International Forgets What Made the Original So Great," 12 June 2019 The artists working on agrarian art today are still painting those same fields the social realists were drawn to back in the 1930s and 1940s. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "Artists stopped showing us the truth about farming and it’s hurting the planet," 15 June 2019 But Dudamel, ever the realist, knows that the best way to enter the competition is to maintain the underdog role and surprise your opponent. Luis Miguel Echegaray,, "Copa America 2019 Rankings: Who Needs to Win the Competition the Most?," 12 June 2019 Haideh Hirmand, a New York City plastic surgeon and a clinical assistant professor of surgery at Cornell Medical College, was arguably even more of a realist. Alice Gregory, Allure, "I Got Fillers for My Chronic Undereye Circles, and the Results Were Impressive," 28 Apr. 2019 But the war years seemed to confirm Bassani in his sensibilities, which were shaped by the 19th-century realists, in particular Gustave Flaubert. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Memorial Tablet in Viale Cavour," 21 Dec. 2018 If anything, Prime Minister Abe is just a coldhearted realist. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Myanmar Courts Asian Powers Wary of China’s Sway," 4 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

There is this other stream that doesn't get a lot of coverage in the media which is a more realist approach to foreign policy that does seek to have a different approach. Fox News, "Two FBI agents sought to 'stop' Trump," 18 June 2018 Children of Blood and Bone also draws on a very different, realist approach that has claimed attention in mainstream young-adult fiction in the post-Ferguson era. Vann R. Newkirk Ii, The Atlantic, "Where Fantasy Meets Black Lives Matter," 6 Mar. 2018

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


1547 , in the meaning defined at sense 1


1853, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for realist

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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The first known use of realist was in 1547

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More Definitions for realist



English Language Learners Definition of realist

: a person who understands what is real and possible in a particular situation : a person who accepts and deals with things as they really are
: an artist or writer who shows or describes people and things as they are in real life

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More from Merriam-Webster on realist

Spanish Central: Translation of realist

Nglish: Translation of realist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of realist for Arabic Speakers

Comments on realist

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characterized by aphorism

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