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

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 An optimist might call that progress, but a realist would call it awful defense. Clifton Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Pacers fall behind Magic by 21, then engineer a thrilling comeback," 27 Jan. 2018 In the late 19th century, social-realist works depicting the working class and the poor proliferated in Europe, reaching their peak in America during the Great Depression. Lauren Oyler, New York Times, "What Do We Mean When We Call Art ‘Necessary’?," 8 May 2018 Considered one of the best magical-realist novels, the book follows four generations of a Chilean family beset by political and cultural turmoil. Michael Schaub,, "Celebrate Independence Day with these 17 books by immigrant authors," 3 July 2018 Pivot’s reference to class struggle makes the novel sound like an inheritor to the French realist tradition of Balzac, Zola, Flaubert. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, "The New Domestic Horror," 22 Jan. 2018 Both idealists and realists, Wolitzer’s characters would like to see a better world but find precious little room for principled choices amid the corporate structures that now govern more and more of life. Press Release, The New Republic, "The New Republic May Issue: The American Terror Industry," 19 Apr. 2018 At the same time, our realist commitments should be reconsidered. Philip Ball, WIRED, "Questioning Truth, Reality, and the Role of Scientific Progress," 2 June 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

5 May 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

What made you want to look up realist? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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