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

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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

Within a matter of hours, a possible act of anti-auction protest by an inveterate art prankster had been transmogrified by the churning gears of the market into an auction-reifying, value-amplifying piece of monetizable performance art. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "The Price of Everything,," 18 Oct. 2018 This is just reified in the so-called app-based, digital ... Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: ‘Temp’ author Louis Hyman on Recode Decode," 29 Aug. 2018 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

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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Statistics for reify

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for reify

The first known use of reify was in 1854

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More from Merriam-Webster on reify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with reify

Britannica English: Translation of reify for Arabic Speakers

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