surreal

adjective
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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Getting to work with people like Daphne and Jimmy was surreal. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, 11 June 2021 The images and ambitions are surreal, but their hatred could not be more real. Tracy Smith, CBS News, 29 May 2021 Collages are surreal, like nets catching dreams and shadows, because they are already made of figments — someone’s picture of something, made somewhere else. BostonGlobe.com, 26 May 2021 Both said the whole experience of being on the show was surreal. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 15 May 2021 Just flipping through the photos of the packed front rows is surreal; here in the West, our fashion experiences have been limited to our laptops. Emily Farra, Vogue, 16 Apr. 2021 Staying sick as the seasons changed—sometimes housebound for a month at a time, then a little better, then sicker again—was surreal. Kate Fridkis, SELF, 14 Apr. 2021 To smoke the end result from such a quality pod has been surreal. Lindsey Bartlett, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2021 Earlier in the week, Cole said playing with artificial crowd noise and fan-less stadiums last year was surreal. James Wagner, New York Times, 1 Apr. 2021

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

Time Traveler for surreal

Time Traveler

The first known use of surreal was in 1937

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Statistics for surreal

Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Surreal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/surreal. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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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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