Definition of realism in English:


Pronunciation /ˈrē(ə)ˌlizəm/ /ˈri(ə)ˌlɪzəm/

See synonyms for realism

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  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yet when assessing the current situation, realism is also required, as well as precision about what is actually taking place.’
    • ‘Whenever questioned about the perilous financial predicament he always maintained a sense of diplomacy and realism about the situation.’
    • ‘Through discussions with the party he became convinced that post-strike realism would make nationalists accept a deal confined to Northern Ireland.’
    • ‘If the Tories have the courage to take this principled stance and the wit to argue their case coherently, they might well find a resonance in the country, where there is a new, angry mood of realism.’
    • ‘This should come from within the profession if we are to inculcate a sense of realism and ownership in practices in readiness for mandatory incident reporting.’
    • ‘As Jamal Saghir was saying, there's now much more realism about what the private sector can and can't deliver in the developing world.’
    • ‘It is generous in its scope, but the generosity is based on long-term realism and the proposition that reform and change is not only necessary, but unavoidable.’
    • ‘On the other hand, a certain level of realism has turned in.’
    • ‘It is such responses that put Howard a million miles from the toughness and realism his moral certainties are supposed to carry.’
    • ‘It is not the kindness of this prince's heart but the piercing realism of Machiavelli that has produced this morally preferable outcome.’
    • ‘Practical realism must dictate that there is no alternative but to maintain status quo on a permanent basis.’
    • ‘A certain notion of realism began not only to prescribe what could now happen, but to airbrush out what had actually happened.’
    • ‘An idealist tempered by realism, Holland was a doer, not a doubter.’
    • ‘She also says that students need to balance feeling secure on campus with a sense of caution and realism.’
    • ‘Before we all get too carried away it has to be said that his announcement was guided as much by healthy realism as by altruism.’
    • ‘Mr Douglas has come out with the classic cringe which believes pessimism, or realism as he would no doubt like to call it, is an inherently Scottish state of mind.’
    • ‘The journey from apathy to realism is a long, tedious one.’
    pragmatism, practicality, matter-of-factness, common sense, level-headedness, clear-sightedness
    View synonyms
    1. 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But political realism dictates that this change cannot be accomplished directly; it must proceed via a series of transititional stages.’
      • ‘Political realism that determines the goals of geo-politics confronts nations with a situation where military security is equally essential.’
      • ‘To a large extent Jordan's success was due to the pragmatism and political realism of King Abdullah.’
      • ‘His views on these issues, and those recently proclaimed by former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke, show both informed realism and political courage.’
      • ‘Like most arguments about realism in politics, this is a dubious one.’
      • ‘It will also have a different crime rate, divergent patterns of morality, a different standard and notion of what counts as political realism.’
      • ‘The foreign policy of the Voronin administration over the past three years has been based on the classic principles of realism.’
      • ‘Unity, flexibility, realism and political acumen are the crying needs of the hour.’
      • ‘Political realism in essence reduces to the political-ethical principle that might is right.’
      • ‘Australia's defence and security planners view the world around us through the relatively narrow lens of power-politics' realism and respond accordingly.’
      • ‘Making allies of the enemies of democracy because they share putative interests with us is, in other words, not realism but foolish self-deception.’
      • ‘It is exactly these regularly held elections and the freedom of the press that have brought realism to Russian foreign policy and purged it of ideology.’
      • ‘Although criticised by many at that time for being too soft, it was in essence a policy based on realism and aimed at liberating India to play a larger role in the world.’
      • ‘Third, we need policies that combine realism and compassion.’
      • ‘But none of that new realism is allowed to affect the doctrine of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent.’
      • ‘Now the six-party dialogue is beginning to inject a new dose of realism into Pyongyang's policy.’
  • 2The quality or fact of representing a person, thing, or situation accurately or in a way that is true to life.

    While realism in art is often used in the same contexts as naturalism, implying a concern to depict or describe accurately and objectively, it also suggests a deliberate rejection of conventionally beautiful or appropriate subjects in favor of sincerity and a focus on simple and 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

    ‘the earthy realism of Raimu's characters’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He interweaves a Brechtian political parable with naturalist realism.’
    • ‘It's a Cold War story based on a Tom Clancy book, so the locations are plentiful and the political intrigue calls for realism.’
    • ‘Although it did cover social issues, they argued that this was merely an inevitable consequence of its commitment to realism, rather than something which they self-consciously set out to do.’
    • ‘So I want to treat this as a piece of realism rather than the picturesque tradition, which tends to depict an idealised version of English heritage.’
    • ‘In Chandler's famous puff for the superiority of the private eye over the classic mystery, its virtue is said to lie in its greater realism.’
    • ‘The game strives for a certain degree of realism rather than dazzle, and in that I think it has succeeded.’
    • ‘At the same time, the over-exaggeration of torque when taxiing in planes seems to be a developer's nuance rather than actual realism.’
    • ‘The biological realism of this restricted model is tenuous.’
    • ‘Adult television has already begun to recognize the public's hunger for fascinating scientific realism.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, a number of important African American writers played truant from the school of racial realism.’
    • ‘The paintings reproduce the photographed features with illusionistic realism while leaving the surrounding heads completely flat.’
    • ‘It is a statue cast in bronze and shows both realism of style and undoubted symbolic ritual function.’
    • ‘The irony here is that this series achieves a high degree of realism when it deals with medical and surgical emergencies.’
    • ‘At the heart of Victorian realistic tendencies was the unraveling of the very practice of realism itself.’
    • ‘Regardless of whether or not one accepts Loach's version of reality, his dedication to realism is laudable.’
    • ‘Each stroke he made with the brush was incredibly painstaking, because he had to match it up precisely in order to give it a certain amount of realism.’
    • ‘She has always been interested in colour and composition rather than realism and believes painting to be a subject in itself, a ‘visual experience of mood and atmosphere’.’
    authenticity, fidelity, verisimilitude, truthfulness, faithfulness, naturalism
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1(in art and literature) the movement or style of representing familiar things as they actually are.
      Often contrasted with idealism (sense 1)
      ‘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.’
      • ‘By about 1930, many artists who in the 1910s and early 1920s employed an abstract style had turned to realism.’
      • ‘The artist's style combines heroic realism with a restrained delicacy of expression that places him among the best of the century's monument makers.’
      • ‘And though realism in equine art is popular, some artists say they have found great success in more abstract styles.’
      • ‘Though the prose is nicely formed and sometimes beautiful, the world created often veers more closely to romantic fantasy than literary realism.’
      • ‘My preference for styles is realism to modern art, but learning how to achieve different art forms is interesting.’
      • ‘Poynton's arrant realism provides echoes of Lucian Freud, Stanley Spencer, Eric Fischl and Philip Pearlstein.’
      • ‘Show entries range in style from realism to the very abstract.’
      • ‘The occasion emphasized continuity with an admired past, but these composers' operas embraced a new style of realism (known as verismo).’
      • ‘However, if the narratives make a claim for social realism, then they also acknowledge the limits of realism as a representational mode.’
      • ‘For the most part, it falls into two broad categories or camps: the various forms of literary realism, and the various gambits of postmodernism.’
      • ‘First, there was renewed interest in realism from the larger art community.’
      • ‘We're not dealing with realism in those sections, where the actors are masked.’
      • ‘Wright was committed to the practice of modern realism and radical modernism.’
      • ‘Later, I shall deal with issues of idealism and realism in African film productions.’
      • ‘Now continue and stop imposing realism on this deeply realism-resistant work.’
      • ‘They produced masterpieces of American realism, and that realism was the kiss of death: it offered little to Theory.’
      • ‘What is realism as understood by the theoretician of art?’
  • 3Philosophy
    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

    ‘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.’
    • ‘Some commentators have thought that Descartes is committed to a species of Platonic realism.’
    • ‘Another aim is to show that the problem of direct realism versus indirect realism is of importance for the ontological analysis of social reality.’
    • ‘The alternative between a theological and an independent theory of ethics is, he holds, the alternative between ethical nominalism and realism.’
    • ‘Thus, the ontological eliminative structuralism inherits the problems and potential solutions of realism in ontology (platonism).’
    • ‘That means the status of strings in string theory in physics can become a philosophical topic by way of discussions of realism and nominalism.’
    • ‘Other terms for this ontology are pluralistic realism and transcendental realism.’
    • ‘What it seems that we have done is to locate ourselves more decisively on one side of the continental divide of the old Christian world, between realism and nominalism.’
    1. 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)
      ‘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.’
      • ‘The controversy in metaphysics between idealism and realism is that, for the idealist, nothing exists independently of the mind.’
      • ‘It is therefore not surprising that commentators have wanted to show that properly understood his phenomenology is realist or at least neutral with respect to realism and idealism.’
      • ‘A large number of people said that the real was the measurable, which could be a sign of realism, operationalism, or hermeneutical realism.’
      • ‘She argues that ontological realism about a type of entity is justified if the objective existence of the entities is part of our best explanation of the world.’