• synonyms


[uhn-ree-uhl, -reel]
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  1. not real or actual.
  2. imaginary; fanciful; illusory; delusory; fantastic.
  3. lacking in truth; not genuine; false; artificial: unreal propaganda serving as news.
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Origin of unreal

First recorded in 1595–1605; un-1 + real1
Related formsun·re·al·ly, adverb


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for unreal

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The garden lay before her, unreal in the beauty of moonlight.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Pale and unreal in the moonlight, the river floated them away.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • And when he saw her face, the unreal feeling did not go away.

    Great Uncle Hoot-Toot

    Mrs. Molesworth

  • And once there came to him a vision which beyond all doubt was unreal.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • There was an unreal dreamlike quality about the happening to the girl.

    The Innocent Adventuress

    Mary Hastings Bradley

British Dictionary definitions for unreal


  1. imaginary or fanciful or seemingly soan unreal situation
  2. having no actual existence or substance
  3. insincere or artificial
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Derived Formsunreally, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for unreal


c.1600, "not real," from un- (1) "not" + real (adj.). Slang sense of "wonderful, great" is first recorded 1965.

Hence horrible shadow, Vnreall mock'ry hence. ["Macbeth," III.iv.107]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper