sur·​re·​al·​ism | \ sə-ˈrē-ə-ˌli-zəm also -ˈrā- How to pronounce surrealism (audio) \

Definition of surrealism

: the principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film, or theater by means of unnatural or irrational juxtapositions and combinations

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from surrealism

surrealist \ sə-​ˈrē-​ə-​list also , -​ˈrā-​ How to pronounce surrealist (audio) \ noun or adjective

Examples of surrealism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The other mural is by an emerging young man, Sergio Mora, who stands out for his ironic style, with a viewpoint of very Spanish magical surrealism–like Dalí—which gives us a vanguard touch in the space, welcoming the visitor. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "A Mecca of Spanish Design and Food Opens in New York," 3 Apr. 2019 Take for example a Fornasetti umbrella stand, that will infuse your hallway with a touch of Italianate surrealism, rain or shine. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Organization, but Make it Fashion: 12 Home Items That Are Chic and Functional," 17 Jan. 2019 The author’s flair for intertwining surrealism with delicate emotionality is again on full display in Mouthful of Birds, a collection short stories that sit somewhere between miniature mysteries and fairy tales. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Most Anticipated Books of 2019: 19 Picks You Should Have on Your Reading List," 1 Jan. 2019 As the three cross paths later in Paris, Dupontel blends surrealism and crime drama in this epic story of the brutal scars left by the war. Loren King,, "At the MFA, it’s time for the Boston French Film Festival," 5 July 2018 One of White’s first hires was the former art director Henry Wolf, who infused the magazine with a deadpan surrealism through irreverent play with text and typography. Stephen Mooallem, Harper's BAZAAR, "Pop Goes Bazaar: A Look Back at the Magazine in the 1960s," 9 June 2017 Here, surrealism works better, all weird precision, a simplicity to its part-reality, part-dream. Daisy Fried, New York Times, "Sex, Death, Suffering and Surrealism, in New Books of Poetry," 6 July 2018 Suspiria echoes these films as well, with their mix of modern aesthetic and fairytale surrealism. Aja Romano, Vox, "How Suspiria turns the color red into a plot point," 9 Nov. 2018 Without losing sight of its central narrative, the book on occasion ascends into the realm of surrealism and the fever dream. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: A Fever Dream of Ransom and Rescue," 23 Aug. 2018

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

1925, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for surrealism

French surréalisme, from sur- + réalisme realism

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about surrealism

Dictionary Entries near surrealism








Statistics for surrealism

Last Updated

30 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surrealism

The first known use of surrealism was in 1925

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for surrealism



English Language Learners Definition of surrealism

: a 20th-century art form in which an artist or writer combines unrelated images or events in a very strange and dreamlike way

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on surrealism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with surrealism

Spanish Central: Translation of surrealism

Britannica English: Translation of surrealism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about surrealism

Comments on surrealism

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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