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 Cutting away from its social-realist construct and into musical sequences inspired by Bollywood, a level of charmingly imperfect kitsch is preserved. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘The Orphanage,’ an imperfect yet charming blend of Bollywood and Soviet Afghanistan," 5 Mar. 2021 There’s a magical-realist dance number in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria that doesn’t quite land. Globe Staff,, "Raise high the roof beam, Joanna," 4 Mar. 2021 Some interpretations challenge the realist assumption that reality is strictly physical. John Horgan, Scientific American, "I'm Agonizing over My Naive Realism," 19 Mar. 2021 But then, Ishiguro isn’t a futurist or even a realist. Helen Shaw, Vulture, "In Klara and the Sun, Artificial Intelligence Meets Real Sacrifice," 6 Mar. 2021 The second ethic is associated with the realist, who codes as a savvy pol and cares about results. Corey Robin, The New Yorker, "The Professor and the Politician," 12 Nov. 2020 The Rosenblums became top authorities on Lewis W. Hine, the social realist known for his documentary images of immigrants at Ellis Island, children being exploited as laborers and ironworkers on the Empire State Building. New York Times, "Naomi Rosenblum, Historian of Photography, Dies at 96," 5 Mar. 2021 But the realist in me still thinks of the pillars as an exercise in pounding square pegs into round holes. Robert Goulder, Forbes, "The BEPS Gambit: Is Corporate Tax Harmonization Doomed?," 3 Mar. 2021 In the history of Philippine cinema, almost all our acclaimed films in the international scene have been heavily social realist or neorealist in orientation. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Director Isabel Sandoval Wants to Shed Light on Invisible Women," 24 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The latest evidence is the gloriously relentless retrospective of Alice Neel (1900-1984), the radical realist painter of all things human, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "It’s Time to Put Alice Neel in Her Rightful Place in the Pantheon," 1 Apr. 2021 In the interview, Obama exhibited his familiarity with nightmares like QAnon and a realist attitude toward the near-future. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Obama's book tour doubles as a warning about 'deeply divided' media landscape," 16 Nov. 2020 Try to grasp the mystery of the furry mythical creature in Firelei Báez’s ultra-realist rendering, and try to define the indefinable angst in Heidi Hahn’s ghostly expressionist painting. Doug Maccash,, "Gorgeous new NOMA show includes translucent silk clouds raining 4,000 glinting needles," 13 Oct. 2020 The quartet allowed its narrator, a writer named Lenù, to move among several different genres of storytelling: the fable, the romance, the realist novel. Merve Emre, The Atlantic, "Elena Ferrante’s Master Class on Deceit," 8 Aug. 2020 His poetic liberties in a realist mode point back to one of his favorite predecessors, Gustave Courbet. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Edward Hopper and American Solitude," 1 June 2020 This is a sugarless movie, with a grim, realist acknowledgment of a woman’s fate — of a poor, working woman’s fate. Wesley Morris, New York Times, "‘Outbreak’ Was a Hit in 1995. Now We’re Living the Sequel.," 30 Mar. 2020 Chris came into the game as one of the most confident and realist players in the Circle. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Who is Chris from "The Circle"?," 14 Jan. 2020 The booth contained dozens of human-sized screens with eerily realist avatars creeping everyone out. Popular Science, "The weirdest, wildest, and coolest images from CES 2020," 9 Jan. 2020

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


1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1853, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of realist was in 1817

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Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Realist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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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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