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


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: 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
Presumably, as realists, the authors believe Washington’s growing efforts to check Beijing are logical. Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 Many of the realists whose novels are being interpolated by this show, though, were obsessed with the present. Phillip MacIak, The New Republic, 1 Nov. 2023 And the movie’s heavy-handed magical realist elements counter the slightness of the material to deadly effect. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Nov. 2023 Mearsheimer and Rosato are both realists, and according to their version of realism, Putin’s decision was the natural response to NATO expansion. Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 Pynchon was a realist about the ability of government and industrial elites to pacify workers. WIRED, 22 Oct. 2023 The answer may lie in the tendency of some prominent realist scholars to assert that polarity is far more important, empirically, than other variables. Joshua Shifrinson, Foreign Affairs, 17 Oct. 2023 To confront things like gender, confinement, and selfhood head-on, in a realist novel, might result in prose that is weighed down by the subjects, by the literal nature of the engagement, and thus leave the reader with very little space to enter the text. Hazlitt, 20 Sep. 2023 And that’s just who Hassan is — a realist, like a true Virgo. Mckinley Franklin, Variety, 1 Oct. 2023
More traditional are Freya Grand’s pair of realist nature scenes, which focus tightly on small areas of sea or earth. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 Though there are supernatural touches — notably in the peculiar behavior of the local fauna — this long first section is primarily driven by the intrigues of realist fiction: romance, sickness, family mystery. Charles Arrowsmith, Washington Post, 13 Sep. 2023 She was given a role—but turned it down upon actually reading Hansberry’s realist drama, cowed by the challenge. Hazlitt, 9 Aug. 2023 Carr’s focus on military power, economic power, and the state’s ability to shape public opinion reinforced the realist character of the book. Quincy Wright, Foreign Affairs, 6 Sep. 2022 As a result, public and even elite views have begun to swing in a more pragmatic and realist direction over the last decade. Emma Ashford, Foreign Affairs, 6 Sep. 2022 There are undoubtedly realist approaches to the world that espouse power-seeking and U.S. military primacy. Emma Ashford, Foreign Affairs, 6 Sep. 2022 For a long time, public sentiment seemed to be inching toward the latter, more realist view. Zachary Siegel, The New Republic, 27 June 2023 The avalanche of original science fiction is timely, arriving as many readers and writers in Latin America feel choked by the folksy tropes of magical realism and desensitized by realist depictions of the region’s struggles with violence. Emily Hart, New York Times, 10 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'realist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1853, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of realist was in 1817

Dictionary Entries Near realist

Cite this Entry

“Realist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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