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- 1the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically:the idealism of youthCompare with realism.
- (in art or literature) the representation of things in ideal or idealized form. Often contrasted with realism (sense 2).
- 2 Philosophy any of various systems of thought in which the objects of knowledge are held to be in some way dependent on the activity of mind. Often contrasted with realism (sense 3).