- "Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American."-President Woodrow Wilson in a speech at Sioux Falls, North Dakota (delivered September 8, 1919)
- "I am idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."-Carl Sandburg Incidentals (1907)
- "An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it is also more nourishing."-H. L. Mencken A little Book in C Major (1916)
- "The idealist is incorrigible: if he is expelled from his heaven, he makes an ideal out of hell."-Friedrich Nietzsche Mixed Opinions and Maxims, aphorism 23 (1879)
Ideal comes from the Late Latin word ideālis, which means “existing as an idea or archetype.” The earliest recorded use of idealist in English occurs in 1701 in philosopher John Norris’s Essay toward the Theory of the Ideal or Intelligible World, in which he references the Greek philosopher Plato’s “theory of forms.” Plato had posited that everything we perceive is actually a representation of ideal things, but not the things themselves. Idealism gained popularity in various guises in the 18th-century works of philosophers such as Berkeley, Kant, and Hegel.
By the start of the 19th century, the meaning of idealist broadened to describe artists or writers who treated subjects with imagination, in contrast to a naturalist or realist, who depicted a real-world atmosphere in their art. A few decades later, the term was applied to visionaries, and soon after to people who were so imbued with an ideal that they failed to see the world for what it is. Today, the word can be a two-edged sword: if a person calls herself an idealist she very likely means it positively, as in the pursuit of a higher good. However, if somebody else calls her an idealist, that person can mean that she is impractical or naive.
—Idealist.org: a job-search website that connects people who want to work or volunteer their services with not-for-profit organizations.
Examples from the Web for idealist
He was a dreamer, an idealist, grounded in the reality he observed around him.
It is not an idealist, not a romantic call to ethics of conviction as opposed to ethics of responsibility.
He was an “idealist and a realist at the same time,” said his close friend, the British Diplomat Frank Roberts.The Man Who Knew Russia Best: George Kennan’s Revealing Diaries|James A. Warren|March 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
“It is an ideological—no, not ideological, but I am an idealist still, and I think that I can win,” he said.Prankster or Politician? Jay Stamper Says His S.C. Senate Bid Is Real|David Freedlander|October 29, 2013|DAILY BEAST
“The Idealist” Justin Peters, Slate Aaron Swartz wanted to save the world.
A very bad but beautiful woman had married a man younger than herself, an idealist, chivalrous, and quite unusually moral.Women's Wild Oats|C. Gasquoine Hartley
An idealist, how could she trust herself to Eustace Hignett?The Girl on the Boat|Pelham Grenville Wodehouse
To our idealist there was something extremely odious in this sudden offer of money.Tales From Two Hemispheres|Hjalmar Hjorth Boysen
The idealist was about to apply his principles of church polity to family life, to the horror of many nominal allies.Life of John Milton|Richard Garnett
His was neither the look nor the manner of an idealist, a reformer.United States Steel|Arundel Cotter
Word Origin and History for idealist
It seems even incredible, that any Idealist in any age could forget himself so far as to run his head against a post, merely because he found in his system, that no external world does exist, and that therefore nothing could be without to hurt him. [F.A. Nitsch, "A General and Introductory View of Professor Kant's Principles," 1796]
Earlier still, "one who holds doctrines of philosophical idealism" (1701).