Definition of realism in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrɪəlɪz(ə)m/


[mass noun]
1The attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly: the summit was marked by a new mood of realism
More example sentences
  • What we want is the ability to recognise the difference between situations that call for optimism, trying harder, and the situations that call for realism and pessimism.
  • Mr Rogers hopes this development may bring a greater sense of realism to a situation which ‘has been as cracked as a dropping pot for at least a decade now’.
  • This article is completely atypical in its brutal realism about the situation in Saudi Arabia.
pragmatism, practicality, matter-of-factness, common sense, level-headedness, clear-sightedness
1.1The view that the subject matter of politics is political power, not matters of principle: political realism is the oldest approach to global politics
More example sentences
  • On my second reading of it the ideas are much clearer, and I find myself increasingly amazed at the uniqueness and political realism of the Marxist worldview and analysis.
  • In the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th, Europe advocated realism and practiced power politics.
  • To recognize that war is inevitable is not pessimism, but political realism.
1.2The doctrine that the law is better understood by analysis of judges rather than the judgements given: modern jurists have tended to underestimate the scope of American legal realism
More example sentences
  • The Constitution of the United States of America is a majestic old document, but in our age of legal realism the common wisdom is that judges do with it what they want.
  • This approach - sometimes known as legal realism - led to some landmark decisions.
  • The first to develop was legal realism - basically a group of really cynical judges.
2The quality or fact of representing a person or thing in a way that is accurate and true to life: British soaps will stay because of their gritty realism
More example sentences
  • The more you look for details, cues and fakes, the more you add to the realism of the situation.
  • And it gives that movie a certain essence, a certain kind of realism.
  • If we return to the gunshot analogy, we realize why creating sound effects is a perfectly legitimate practice in maintaining realism.
authenticity, fidelity, verisimilitude, truthfulness, faithfulness, naturalism
informal telling it like it is
2.1An artistic or literary movement or style characterized by the representation of people or things as they actually are. Often contrasted with idealism (sense 1).
Example sentences
  • Within the context of art, say of realism versus expressionism, you can have a realistic body or an expressionistic body.
  • These discoveries about the earliest form of genre painting in Italy open up the topic of realism in the seicento to further scrutiny.
  • It belongs rather to that tradition of artistic realism that stakes its claim to truth on calculated departures from familiar modes of seeing and knowing.

While realism in art is often used in the same contexts as naturalism, implying a concern with accurate and objective representation, it also suggests a deliberate rejection of conventionally attractive or appropriate subjects in favour of sincerity and a focus on the unidealized treatment of contemporary life. Specifically, the term is applied to a late 19th-century movement in French painting and literature represented by Gustave Courbet in the former and Balzac, Stendhal, and Flaubert in the latter.

3 Philosophy The doctrine that universals or abstract concepts have an objective or absolute existence. The theory that universals have their own reality is sometimes called Platonic realism because it was first outlined by Plato’s doctrine of ‘forms’ or ideas. Often contrasted with nominalism.
Example sentences
  • There's little indication of the available range of ethical theories, from crude emotivism to Platonic realism, from McDowellian objectivism to virtue theory.
  • The position of entity realism is that at least some of the cognitive objects discussed in scientific theories do exist.
  • I must confess that I have always found the concept of symbolic realism to be somewhat disconcerting.
3.1The doctrine that matter as the object of perception has real existence and is neither reducible to universal mind or spirit nor dependent on a perceiving agent. Often contrasted with idealism (sense 2).
Example sentences
  • Abelard defends his thesis that universals are nothing but words by arguing that ontological realism about universals is incoherent.
  • Many contemporary philosophers see the ultimate triumph of atomism as a victory for realism over positivism.
  • Peirce's realism attempted to embrace both the constructions of the mind and the mind's interface with reality through perception.

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