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

Definition of surreal

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

Other Words from surreal

surreality \ (ˌ)sə-​rē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce surreal (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.
Recent Examples on the Web The scene was somewhat surreal, given the three years since that Lollapalooza, and the year-and-a-half since Cobain’s suicide shattered this world. Steve Hochman, SPIN, 26 July 2022 Houseboats, sailboats, and motorboats have been beached, creating a surreal scene in an otherwise rugged desert landscape. John Locher,, 11 July 2022 Houseboats, sailboats and motorboats have been beached, creating a surreal scene in an otherwise rugged desert landscape. John Locher, The Arizona Republic, 11 July 2022 Yeah, that is what has been incredibly surreal for me. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 June 2022 Maverick is less surreal in that sense, but only barely. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 12 May 2022 The experience was even more surreal for Burns, who got pulled into the project for his expertise in Autodesk REVIT, a 3-D modeling software. Michelle L. Quinn, Chicago Tribune, 2 May 2022 To know this building will be the home of Nike’s product design and Consumer Creation teams is incredibly surreal. Rosa Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 Apr. 2022 Maybe even more surreal was the effort to then get the show back on track. David Sims, The Atlantic, 27 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for surreal

Time Traveler

The first known use of surreal was in 1937

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Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Surreal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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