surreal

adjective
sur·​re·​al | \ sə-ˈrē(-ə)l also -ˈrā-əl How to pronounce surreal (audio) \

Definition of surreal

1 : marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream also : unbelievable, fantastic surreal sums of money

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Other Words from surreal

surreality \ (ˌ)sə-​rē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce surreality (audio) \ noun
surreally adverb

Did You Know?

In 1924 a group of European poets, painters, and filmmakers founded a movement that they called Surrealism. Their central idea was that the unconscious mind (a concept Sigmund Freud had recently made famous) was the source of all imagination, and that art should try to express its contents. The unconscious, they believed, revealed itself most clearly in dreams. The Surrealist painters included René Magritte, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dalí, whose "limp watches" painting became the best-known Surrealist image of all. Since those years, we've used surreal to describe all kinds of situations that strike us as dreamlike. And even though the Surrealist movement ended long ago, surrealism now seems to be everywhere—not just in painting, literature, and movies but also in blogs, video games, and graphic novels.

Examples of surreal in a Sentence

Despite all the hassle, though, I would not want an ordinary name. I know of one other person in the world who shares my name, first and last. I know nothing about her except that she lived in New York at the same time I did, and that she and I subscribed to a few of the same publications. I found myself in the surreal position of having to explain to circulation departments that I was, in fact, me, and not that other version of me on the West Side. — Johnna Kaplan, Newsweek, 3 Mar. 2008 Films aren't just a part of life for people in India; they are a way of life. The over-the-top, surreal dance numbers in nearly every Bollywood film often make no sense in relation to the story, but no one seems to be complaining. — Shashank Samant, The Out Traveler, May/June 2005 The movie achieves a truly rare mix of the absurd, the surreal, and the heartfelt. Improbably, its wacked-out premise and structural hilarity concoct a melancholy meditation on love, loss, and memory, while delivering a message—subversive to our culture's therapeutic optimism—about the tragedy of healing. — Rand Richards Cooper, Commonweal, 23 Apr. 2004 The whole thing was completely surreal.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In the span of one surreal night, the NBA’s landscape shifted demonstrably toward the Western Conference. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Clippers’ seismic Kawhi Leonard move shakes NBA, but Nuggets believe in their foundation," 6 July 2019 Director Jacob Coleman makes great use of the space, using almost every inch of it in a way that feels natural even in the shows most surreal moments. oregonlive.com, "‘Our Ruined House’ mixes surrealism, humor to explore erosion of trust," 1 July 2019 During a surreal segment on property rights, which lie at the very heart of the conflict, the moderator mused about using blockchain for Palestinian land deeds. The Economist, "An underwhelming start to the “ultimate” Israeli-Palestinian deal," 27 June 2019 The widescreen landscapes are impressive — as when dissolving from a Diego Rivera mural to a plane flight over Mexico’s surreal rural and urban landscape, which provides the film’s most captivating sequence. Armond White, National Review, "Franco Zeffirelli: Unlikely Conservative Hero," 20 June 2019 There is a surreal quality to some of his counterfactuals in this respect. Nicholas Guyatt, The New York Review of Books, "How Proslavery Was the Constitution?," 6 June 2019 The remaining galleries feature a riot of colors, starting with Theis’ surreal immersive installation that initially suggests an odd children’s television universe but then eerie elements reveal themselves, suggesting something more off-kilter. Deborah Martin, ExpressNews.com, "Blue Star Contemporary exhibit ‘Fünf’ spotlights Berlin residency," 21 June 2019 However, unlike the surreal green luna moth that emerges at the end of Montgomery's video, what emerges once Sweet Pass Sculpture Park is no more may be far more banal. Dallas News, "West Dallas sculpture park provides an oasis in a rapidly changing neighborhood," 19 June 2019 At a press conference, the boys described their surreal experience. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Rescued Thai Soccer Team Recounts the Ordeal in the Cave," 18 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surreal.' 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 surreal

1937, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for surreal

back-formation from surrealism

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Learn More about surreal

Dictionary Entries near surreal

surprisingly

surr

surra

surreal

surrealism

surrealistic

surrebut

Statistics for surreal

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surreal

The first known use of surreal was in 1937

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More Definitions for surreal

surreal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of surreal

: very strange or unusual : having the quality of a dream

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More from Merriam-Webster on surreal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for surreal

Spanish Central: Translation of surreal

Nglish: Translation of surreal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surreal for Arabic Speakers

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characterized by aphorism

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