re·​al·​ism ˈrē-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce realism (audio)
: concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary
: a doctrine that universals exist outside the mind
specifically : the conception that an abstract term names an independent and unitary reality
: a theory that objects of sense perception or cognition exist independently of the mind compare nominalism
: the theory or practice of fidelity in art and literature to nature or to real life and to accurate representation without idealization

Example Sentences

He has a sense of realism about what can be done to improve the economy. The realism of her dream was alarming. the stark realism of the play
Recent Examples on the Web The magical realism in Palcy's work and the film being told from the perspective of a child resonated with Lemmons who was working on Eve's Bayou at the time. Alamin Yohannes,, 10 Feb. 2023 Alison is a sort of distillation of the work’s chief novelistic qualities, its realism and its immediacy. Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, 6 Feb. 2023 But Henderson’s forceful presence gains strength in closeup, his craggy realism never missing a tenderly ferocious beat. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 4 Feb. 2023 The work, remarkable in its realism, delicate colors and almost cinematic perspective, as though the artist was in the boat with the rower, went on display Monday in the Musée d’Orsay. Catherine Gaschka, Fortune, 30 Jan. 2023 Their realism seems to have polarized the internet, with several commenters mistaking the faux heads for real taxidermy. Tara Gonzalez, Harper's BAZAAR, 23 Jan. 2023 Some of his foreign policy realism simply reflected views that countries that were not major powers were civilizationally inferior and not very important. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, 12 Jan. 2023 Horizon Workrooms does not currently allow such customized room creation, but Mattmann says Meta is building this capability—and such hyper-realism may be important to the app’s long-term competitiveness. WIRED, 6 Jan. 2023 There are also moments in the show that lean toward earthy realism, such as a sizable 1882 painting by the French Impressionist, Gustave Caillebotte, depicting a storefront window in Paris filled with chickens, game birds, and hares. Steven Litt, cleveland, 23 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'realism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of realism was in 1817

Dictionary Entries Near realism

Cite this Entry

“Realism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​al·​ism ˈrē-ə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce realism (audio)
: willingness to face facts and to give in to what is necessary
: the showing of things as they really are in art, literature, and theater
realist adjective or noun

More from Merriam-Webster on realism

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