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

Afterward, Dudley said the ceremony was a little surreal. Mikaela Porter, courant.com, "Six Inmates From Enfield Prison Graduate With Honors From Asnuntuck Community College," 4 June 2018 When their first championship was still a bit surreal. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "When things get tense for Warriors, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson come through," 26 May 2018 Now Fredericksburg is two playoff rounds away from its first state-tournament berth in more than 25 years, which is surreal for those who grew up in the town of fewer than 15,000 residents. Adam Zuvanich, San Antonio Express-News, "Small-town Fredericksburg team big on talent," 23 May 2018 That tension came to a head in last night’s Emmys broadcast, a surreal, dissonant descent into the uncanny valley of intent vs. impact that was somehow even more embarrassing than the Academy’s simple traditional snubbing of good television. Devon Maloney, The Verge, "Hollywood had a breakdown trying to justify itself at the 2018 Emmys," 18 Sep. 2018 The Hotel Valley Ho is architecturally surreal and has a swinging pool scene and a memorable bacon-and-bleu-cheese burger at ZuZu’s. David Weiss, Newsweek, "Nomad’s Land: The Smart Traveler’s Guide to Scottsdale, Arizona," 20 Sep. 2015 The work is often narrative—connecting, perhaps to the town’s industry—but can also be surreal. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, "As Frieze Los Angeles Opens, Three Young California Artists Are Reinventing What Figurative Painting Can Be," 15 Feb. 2019 Famously, Monty Python’s Flying Circus turned the postwar ubiquity of Spam into a surreal punchline in a 1970 television sketch. Ben Zimmer, WSJ, "The Story of ‘Spam’: How a Mystery Meat Became an Inbox Invader," 24 Jan. 2019 But its shaggier second half grows steadily more surreal and difficult to pin down. Mark Richardson, WSJ, "‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’ by Deerhunter Review: A Statelier Kind of Chaos," 9 Jan. 2019

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

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surra

surreal

surrealism

surrealistic

surrebut

Statistics for surreal

Last Updated

20 Mar 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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