surreal

adjective
sur·​re·​al | \ sə-ˈrē(-ə)l also -ˈrā-əl \

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 \ 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

The same algorithm trained on a much wider variety of images, however, is significantly worse at its job and dishes out more surreal results. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Neural Net Will Draw a Horrifyingly Awful Picture of Whatever You Want," 17 Aug. 2018 Moments like that, in which semi-surreal details are happened upon rather than contrived, demonstrate Van Sant at his most easeful, and the languor is sustained by Jonah Hill, as Donnie, a rich and sickly soul who becomes John’s A.A. sponsor. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Gus Van Sant’s Semi-Surreal “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot”," 13 July 2018 Riley just spins the idea out into a surreal cinematic reality that’s simultaneously silly and nightmarish. Katie Walsh, kansascity, "‘Sorry to Bother You’ skewers corporate and cultural corruption," 12 July 2018 Especially my love for music and love for live music, to be able to be a part of that show now every night is an absolutely a surreal feeling. Alessandra Rincón, Billboard, "A R I Z O N A Talks Touring With Panic! At the Disco, Addressing Anxiety With New Music: 'We All Have Those Moments'," 12 July 2018 Some create clones of their previous incarnations and stick them all in one surreal music video. refinery29.com, "Taylor Swift Is A Low-Key Freak, Says Lena Dunham," 11 July 2018 Sometimes very surreal images that cannot be real are just presented in the essays. Ryan Chapman, Longreads, "Your Best Work Comes from Scaring Yourself," 29 June 2018 Although Blazer seems foolish, and Alice foolhardy, Amar is the one whose situation is reduced to the truly surreal as he is left to languish in a mirrored and stateless cell. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, "Whose Wonderland?," 30 Jan. 2018 Seeing the boys in the dugout cheering me on was a surreal moment. Jeff Sanders, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Talking with ... Padres shortstop Dusty Coleman," 28 July 2017

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

9 Jan 2019

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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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