reify

verb
re·ify | \ˈrā-ə-ˌfī, ˈrē-\
reified; reifying

Definition of reify 

transitive verb

: to consider or represent (something abstract) as a material or concrete thing : to give definite content and form to (a concept or idea) … the diversity rationale also insultingly assumes that black students bring a black "point of view," Asians an Asian one and so on, thus reifying the very barriers of race and ethnicity that affirmative action is meant to erase.— James Traub

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Reify is a word that attempts to provide a bridge between what is abstract and what is real. Fittingly, it derives from a word that is an ancestor to "real" - the Latin noun res, meaning "thing." Both "reify" and the related noun "reification" first appeared in English in the mid-19th century, though "reification" is a few years older and some dictionaries consider "reify" to be a back-formation of the noun. In general use, the words refer to the act of considering or presenting an abstract idea in real or material terms, or of judging something by a concrete example.

Examples of reify in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

With so many stories of mean-spirited and violent segregationists abusing black women and men, rarely did Lewis or Odum or progressives nationwide have to confront how their liberal reforms reified racial inequities. Longreads, "Nell Battle Lewis, Storyteller for Jim Crow," 25 May 2018 Going forward, how can pharmaceutical companies avoid reifying societal biases and, as a result, undermining the public health effectiveness of their products? Ashley Andreou, STAT, "New Gardasil ad campaign gets it (mostly) right. It shouldn’t have taken a decade," 18 June 2018 This work connected her to nationwide efforts that rooted reform in social science research and simultaneously reified an American racial hierarchy. Longreads, "Nell Battle Lewis, Storyteller for Jim Crow," 25 May 2018 In addition to a stable of political allies who would likely agree with him, the president also enjoys a mostly pliant Republican establishment that’s unwilling to rein him in and a powerful media apparatus that reifies his every decision. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "When the President Defies the Supreme Court," 24 Apr. 2018 But whether this is best addressed by further reifying racial categories and concepts of citizenship is another matter. Garry Rodan, WSJ, "Singapore’s Uncontested President," 14 Sep. 2017 These words that reify concepts are a cognitive tool. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "How Humans Invented Numbers—And How Numbers Reshaped Our World," 13 Mar. 2017 Like a fine wine, Walla Walla sweets reify their terroir; their sweetness comes from a low amount of sulfur in the soil of the region (which also happens to produce fine wine). Bethany Jean Clement, The Seattle Times, "What’s so great about Walla Walla sweet onions?," 7 June 2017 But Cohen certainly goes across the street and around the corner to reify certain stereotypes about hedge fund managers. Jennifer Senior, New York Times, "Review: ‘Black Edge,’ an Account of a Hedge Fund Magnate and Insider Trading," 1 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reify.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of reify

1854, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for reify

Latin res thing — more at real

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about reify

Listen to Our Podcast about reify

Statistics for reify

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reify

The first known use of reify was in 1854

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on reify

See words that rhyme with reify

Britannica English: Translation of reify for Arabic Speakers

Comments on reify

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

WORD OF THE DAY

one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!