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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Being the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl may be surreal. Washington Post, "Katie Sowers trailblazer as 1st woman coach at Super Bowl," 31 Jan. 2020 To be on that set and in that environment was, like, surreal. Greg Burnett, cleveland, "Actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish brings her stand-up show to the MGM Northfield," 26 Jan. 2020 Being at tonight’s Grammys ceremony in his home at the Staples Center is going to be surreal. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "The World Mourns the Death of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant," 26 Jan. 2020 Providing an environment where participants can put aside skepticism and dive into a surreal story or quirky environment means companies must invest heavily in design. Amanda Shendruk, Quartz, "An industry built on the suspension of disbelief reveals its secrets to world building," 15 Jan. 2020 The notion that the Americas are calling this a de-escalating, defensive move is frankly surreal. Michael Birnbaum, BostonGlobe.com, "Europeans shift troops from Iraq, warn fight against Islamic State is imperiled because of U.S. actions," 7 Jan. 2020 Just the whole experience of being on stage with her in such close proximity was surreal. Jennifer Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Shout Out: Dalal Hassane, Maine East student newspaper editor-in-chief," 22 Nov. 2019 Later, his wife said that the entire meal was surreal. Weike Wang, The New Yorker, "The Trip," 12 Nov. 2019 So to have her here, and to have her experience this, is surreal. Essence, "A Quick Intro To Mercury Prize-Winning London Rapper Dave," 20 Sep. 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.

See More

First Known Use of surreal

1937, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for surreal

back-formation from surrealism

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about surreal

Time Traveler for surreal

Time Traveler

The first known use of surreal was in 1937

See more words from the same year

Statistics for surreal

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Surreal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/surreal?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=s&file=surrea01. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for surreal

surreal

adjective
How to pronounce surreal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of surreal

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on surreal

What made you want to look up surreal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!