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) … 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 In each of these representative cases, statistics reified not just social affiliation but identity itself. Shannon Pufahl, The New York Review of Books, "Numbering the Dead," 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, "Noel Ignatiev’s Long Fight Against “Whiteness”," 15 Nov. 2019 Once cohorts are reified by name, the labels become dog-whistles., "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 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, "National Geographic’s new issue shows how the world looks through women’s eyes," 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, "Cash, Credit or Painting? How, and Why, Artists Exchange Work," 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, "The Pelosi-Versus-Squad Paradigm," 18 July 2019 And Disney has, in other ways, reified the genre by dusting off its animated classics and finding box-office glory with live-action remakes. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "Has Disney Cornered the Family Film Market as Rivals Hit Summer Slumps?," 15 Aug. 2019 Many of the acts who took the stage were immortalized as icons of the era, either reified for their sets or kicking off their ascent to stardom. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Watch the 10 Most Memorable Performances at Woodstock," 9 Aug. 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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Time Traveler for reify

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The first known use of reify was in 1854

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Cite this Entry

“Reify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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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