re·​ify ˈrā-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce reify (audio)
reified; reifying

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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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. Each word combines the Latin res with an English suffix (-fy and -fication, respectively) that is derived from the Latin -ficare, meaning "to make." 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 The current moment seems to reify rightness and a singularity of view. Liz Appel, Vogue, 13 Feb. 2024 That movie is not about you, but that film reified an idea about you.6 6 As, basically, a somewhat inscrutable and hotheaded oddball. David Marchese Photo Illustration By Bráulio Amado, New York Times, 26 Jan. 2024 Within his first year, sales rose by 25%, reifying the house’s relevance in a new era. Killian Wright-Jackson, Essence, 1 Dec. 2023 There’s a temptation in video game movie adaptations to reify every object, imbue every symbol with weight, and rely on the mere act of recognition to carry the viewer’s attention. WIRED, 9 Nov. 2023 Out of a desire to help oppressed groups, that is, grew an ideology that ultimately reifies identity and rejects the possibility of cross-group solidarity. Samuel Clowes Huneke, The New Republic, 26 Oct. 2023 This dynamic was reified in the band’s own music, both in their voices — Gordon’s breathy and mysterious, Moore’s flat and sneering — and in their song material. Vulture, 20 Oct. 2023 The historian’s task is not just to record contemporaneous accounts, impressions, and reactions—less yet to casually reify them—but also sometimes to correct them, and to apply to the painful past an intellectual and moral rigor that the shocks of the present do not always or necessarily allow. Jacob Bacharach, The New Republic, 25 July 2023 They are intended to reify the comforting notion that work isn’t everything — that the real America is slow, simple, cozy and (above all) fair, a place that rewards you for your efforts, full of wise, avuncular coots and simple, patient girls who’ve been waiting all along. New York Times, 3 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Latin res thing — more at real

First Known Use

1854, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of reify was in 1854


Dictionary Entries Near reify

Cite this Entry

“Reify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

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