[ ree-uhl, reel ]
See synonyms for: realreaisrealesreals on

  1. true; not merely ostensible, nominal, or apparent: the real reason for an act.

  2. existing or occurring as fact; actual rather than imaginary, ideal, or fictitious: a story taken from real life.

  1. being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary: The events you will see in the film are real and not just made up.

  2. being actually such; not merely so-called: a real victory.

  3. genuine; not counterfeit, artificial, or imitation; authentic: a real antique;a real diamond;real silk.

  4. unfeigned or sincere: real sympathy;a real friend.

  5. Informal. absolute; complete; utter: She's a real brain.

  6. Philosophy.

    • existent or pertaining to the existent as opposed to the nonexistent.

    • actual as opposed to possible or potential.

    • independent of experience as opposed to phenomenal or apparent.

  7. (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.

  8. Optics. (of an image) formed by the actual convergence of rays, as the image produced in a camera (opposed to virtual).

  9. Mathematics.

    • of, relating to, or having the value of a real number.

    • using real numbers: real analysis; real vector space.

  1. Informal. very or extremely: You did a real nice job painting the house.

  1. the real,

    • something that actually exists, as a particular quantity.

    • reality in general.

Idioms about real

  1. for real, Informal.

    • in reality; actually: You mean she dyed her hair green for real?

    • true to fact; actual: The company's plans to relocate are for real.

    • genuine; sincere: I don't believe his friendly attitude is for real.

Origin of real

First recorded in 1400–50; Middle English real(le) “actual, having physical existence); (law) pertaining to goods or property,” from Old French reel, real and Medieval Latin reālis “(law) pertaining to things rather than persons,” from Late Latin reālis “actual, real,” equivalent to Latin re-, variant stem of rēs “thing, matter, affair” + -ālis -al1

synonym study For real

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 For real

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.

Other words from real

  • re·al·ness, noun

Other definitions for real (2 of 3)

[ rey-ahl; Spanish re-ahl ]

noun,plural re·als [rey-ahlz], /reɪˈɑlz/, Spanish re·a·les [re-ah-les]. /rɛˈɑ lɛs/.
  1. a former silver coin of Spain and Spanish America, the eighth part of a peso.

Origin of real

First recorded in 1550–60; from Spanish: literally, “royal” (the coins being minted for the king), from Latin rēgālis regal1

Other definitions for real (3 of 3)

[ rey-ahl; Portuguese re-ahl ]

  1. singular of reis. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use real in a sentence

  • Government undertakes the cost and the super-intendence of the caminos reales, and does it well.

    Spanish Life in Town and Country | L. Higgin and Eugne E. Street
  • In contrast to Portugal, the caminos reales, or high-roads, of Spain have long been very good.

    Spanish Life in Town and Country | L. Higgin and Eugne E. Street
  • But what would you say if I should tell you that he still owes me four pesos, five reales, and twelve cuartos?

    The Reign of Greed | Jose Rizal
  • He is even as gay and picturesque as the carabinieri reales, though he is a mere plebeian among the noblesse of soldierdom.

  • Maza tried to restrain himself because of Don Rosendo's superior position, and besides, he owed him fifteen thousand reales.

    The Fourth Estate, vol.1 | Armando Palacio Valds

British Dictionary definitions for real (1 of 3)


/ (ˈrɪəl) /

  1. existing or occurring in the physical world; not imaginary, fictitious, or theoretical; actual

  2. (prenominal) true; actual; not false: the real reason

  1. (prenominal) deserving the name; rightly so called: a real friend; a real woman

  2. not artificial or simulated; genuine: real sympathy; real fur

  3. (of food, etc) traditionally made and having a distinct flavour: real ale; real cheese

  4. philosophy existent or relating to actual existence (as opposed to nonexistent, potential, contingent, or apparent)

  5. (prenominal) economics (of prices, incomes, wages, etc) considered in terms of purchasing power rather than nominal currency value

  6. (prenominal) denoting or relating to immovable property such as land and tenements: real property Compare personal

  7. physics Compare image (def. 2)

  8. maths involving or containing real numbers alone; having no imaginary part

  9. music

    • (of the answer in a fugue) preserving the intervals as they appear in the subject

    • denoting a fugue as having such an answer: Compare tonal (def. 3)

  10. informal (intensifier): a real fool; a real genius

  11. the real thing the genuine article, not an inferior or mistaken substitute

  1. short for real number

  2. the real that which exists in fact; reality

  1. for real slang not as a test or trial; in earnest

Origin of real

C15: from Old French réel, from Late Latin reālis, from Latin rēs thing

Derived forms of real

  • realness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for real (2 of 3)


/ (reɪˈɑːl, Spanish reˈal) /

nounplural reals or reales (Spanish reˈales)
  1. a former small Spanish or Spanish-American silver coin

Origin of real

C17: from Spanish, literally: royal, from Latin rēgālis; see regal 1

British Dictionary definitions for real (3 of 3)


/ (Portuguese reˈal) /

nounplural reis (rəjʃ)
  1. the standard monetary unit of Brazil, divided into 100 centavos

  2. a former coin of Portugal

Origin of real

ultimately from Latin rēgālis regal 1

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with real


In addition to the idiom beginning with real

  • real McCoy, the

also see:

  • for real
  • get real

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.