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[ree-uh l, reel] /ˈri əl, ril/
true; not merely ostensible, nominal, or apparent:
the real reason for an act.
existing or occurring as fact; actual rather than imaginary, ideal, or fictitious:
a story taken from real life.
being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary:
The events you will see in the film are real and not just made up.
being actually such; not merely so-called:
a real victory.
genuine; not counterfeit, artificial, or imitation; authentic:
a real antique; a real diamond; real silk.
unfeigned or sincere:
real sympathy; a real friend.
Informal. absolute; complete; utter:
She's a real brain.
  1. existent or pertaining to the existent as opposed to the nonexistent.
  2. actual as opposed to possible or potential.
  3. independent of experience as opposed to phenomenal or apparent.
(of money, income, or the like) measured in purchasing power rather than in nominal value:
Inflation has driven income down in real terms, though nominal income appears to be higher.
Optics. (of an image) formed by the actual convergence of rays, as the image produced in a camera (opposed to virtual).
  1. of, relating to, or having the value of a real number.
  2. using real numbers:
    real analysis; real vector space.
Informal. very or extremely:
You did a real nice job painting the house.
the real.
  1. something that actually exists, as a particular quantity.
  2. reality in general.
for real, Informal.
  1. in reality; actually:
    You mean she dyed her hair green for real?
  2. real; actual:
    The company's plans to relocate are for real.
  3. genuine; sincere:
    I don't believe his friendly attitude is for real.
Origin of real1
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Late Latin reālis, equivalent to Latin re-, variant stem of rēs thing + -ālis -al1
Related forms
realness, noun
Synonym Study
1–5. Real, actual, true in general use describe objects, persons, experiences, etc., that are what they are said or purport to be. That which is described as real is genuine as opposed to counterfeit, false, or merely supposed: a real emerald; real leather binding; My real ambition is to be a dentist. Actual usually stresses contrast with another state of affairs that has been proposed or suggested: The actual cost is much less; to conceal one's actual motive. True implies a perfect correspondence with actuality and is in direct contrast to that which is false or inaccurate: a true account of the events; not bravado but true courage. See also authentic.
Usage note
The intensifying adverb real, meaning “very,” is informal and limited to speech or to written representations of speech: He drives a real beat-up old car. The adjective real meaning “true, actual, genuine, etc.,” is standard in all types of speech and writing: Their real reasons for objecting became clear in the discussion. The informal adjective sense “absolute, complete” is also limited to speech or representations of speech: These interruptions are a real bother. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for realness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It's a little contest in relative approximations to realness.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • Its oppositions are no part of its realness; and therefore they can be overcome.

    Practical Mysticism

    Evelyn Underhill
  • They impress the world with a sense of their courage and realness.

  • That is, I knew in my mind, but I never imagined the realness of what would happen.

    Category Phoenix Boyd Ellanby
  • It ticks away companionably, as if to reassure me of its realness.

  • And I make not even the intellect side of this book, which is a realness to me, without sweet fine sweatings of blood.

    I, Mary MacLane Mary MacLane
British Dictionary definitions for realness


existing or occurring in the physical world; not imaginary, fictitious, or theoretical; actual
(prenominal) true; actual; not false: the real reason
(prenominal) deserving the name; rightly so called: a real friend, a real woman
not artificial or simulated; genuine: real sympathy, real fur
(of food, etc) traditionally made and having a distinct flavour: real ale, real cheese
(philosophy) existent or relating to actual existence (as opposed to nonexistent, potential, contingent, or apparent)
(prenominal) (economics) (of prices, incomes, wages, etc) considered in terms of purchasing power rather than nominal currency value
(prenominal) denoting or relating to immovable property such as land and tenements: real property Compare personal
(physics) Compare image (sense 2)
(maths) involving or containing real numbers alone; having no imaginary part
  1. (of the answer in a fugue) preserving the intervals as they appear in the subject
  2. denoting a fugue as having such an answer Compare tonal (sense 3)
(informal) (intensifier): a real fool, a real genius
the real thing, the genuine article, not an inferior or mistaken substitute
short for real number
the real, that which exists in fact; reality
(slang) for real, not as a test or trial; in earnest
Derived Forms
realness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French réel, from Late Latin reālis, from Latin rēs thing


/reɪˈɑːl; Spanish reˈal/
noun (pl) reals, reales (Spanish) (reˈales)
a former small Spanish or Spanish-American silver coin
Word Origin
C17: from Spanish, literally: royal, from Latin rēgālis; see regal1


/Portuguese reˈal/
noun (pl) reis (rəjʃ)
the standard monetary unit of Brazil, divided into 100 centavos
a former coin of Portugal
Word Origin
ultimately from Latin rēgālisregal1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for realness



early 14c., "actually existing, true;" mid-15c., "relating to things" (especially property), from Old French reel "real, actual," from Late Latin realis "actual," in Medieval Latin "belonging to the thing itself," from Latin res "matter, thing," of uncertain origin. Meaning "genuine" is recorded from 1550s; sense of "unaffected, no-nonsense" is from 1847.

Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. [Margery Williams, "The Velveteen Rabbit"]
Real estate is first recorded 1660s and retains the oldest English sense of the word. Noun phrase real time is early 19c. as a term in logic and philosophy, 1953 as an adjectival phrase; get real, usually an interjection, was U.S. college slang in 1960s, reached wide popularity c.1987.



"small Spanish silver coin," 1580s, from Spanish real, noun use of real (adj.) "regal," from Latin regalis "regal" (see regal). Especially in reference to the real de plata, which circulated in the U.S. till c.1850 and in Mexico until 1897. The same word was used in Middle English in reference to various coins, from Old French real, cognate of the Spanish word.

The old system of reckoning by shillings and pence is continued by retail dealers generally; and will continue, as long as the Spanish coins remain in circulation. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]
He adds that, due to different exchange rates of metal to paper money in the different states, the Spanish money had varying names from place to place. The Spanish real of one-eighth of a dollar or 12 and a half cents was a ninepence in New England, one shilling in New York, elevenpence or a levy in Pennsylvania, "and in many of the Southern States, a bit." The half-real was in New York a sixpence, in New England a fourpence, in Pennsylvania a fip, in the South a picayune.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for realness



Really; truly (1658+)

Related Terms

for real, it's been real

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with realness


In addition to the idiom beginning with
also see:
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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