re·​ify | \ ˈrā-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce reify (audio) , 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) … a culture can be reified into a body of traditions …— M. J. Herskovits

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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 Creating more affordable pathways could reify racial and class hierarchies. Brennan Barnard, Forbes, 27 Apr. 2021 Especially during Reconstruction, the trope served to continue the dehumanization of Black women following slavery and to reify white womanhood, Lindsey said. NBC News, 14 Oct. 2020 In each of these representative cases, statistics reified not just social affiliation but identity itself. Shannon Pufahl, The New York Review of Books, 21 Apr. 2020 He was bewildered by the rise of a style of identity politics that reified the fictions of race and, through its fixation on diversity in élite spaces, abandoned the working class. Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2019 Once cohorts are reified by name, the labels become dog-whistles., 12 Oct. 2019 The new book Women: The National Geographic Image Collection offers insight into how the publication’s representations of women have both reflected and reified the prevailing social mores of different historical periods. Sarah Todd, Quartzy, 26 Oct. 2019 At its best, a trade between artists is a mutual affirmation of artistic identity, a way of reifying the nonmaterial, often subconscious transmission of ideas. New York Times, 8 Oct. 2019 But to reify the candidates who are speaking in a very adamant way and say that will sink the Democrats seems, to me, premature. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 18 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of reify

1854, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for reify

Latin res thing — more at real

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Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on reify

Britannica English: Translation of reify for Arabic Speakers


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