re·al 1 (rēəl, rēl)
a. Being or occurring in fact or actuality; having verifiable existence: real objects; a real illness.
b. True and actual; not imaginary, alleged, or ideal: real people, not ghosts; a film based on real life.
c. Of or founded on practical matters and concerns: a recent graduate experiencing the real world for the first time.
2. Genuine and authentic; not artificial or spurious: real mink; real humility.
3. Being no less than what is stated; worthy of the name: a real friend.
4. Free of pretense, falsehood, or affectation: tourists hoping for a real experience on the guided tour.
5. Not to be taken lightly; serious: in real trouble.
6. Philosophy Existing objectively in the world regardless of subjectivity or conventions of thought or language.
7. Relating to, being, or having value reckoned by actual purchasing power: real income; real growth.
8. Physics Of, relating to, or being an image formed by light rays that converge in space.
9. Mathematics Of, relating to, or being a real number.
10. Law Of or relating to stationary or fixed property, such as buildings or land.
Very: I'm real sorry about that.
1. A thing or whole having actual existence. Often used with the: theories beyond the realm of the real.
2. Mathematics A real number.
for real Slang
Truly so in fact or actuality: "Is this place for real? A wolf in a ... leisure suit and a cow in a print dress wait patiently on the couch in the lobby" (Teresa Carson).
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin reālis, from Latin rēs, thing; see rē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: real1, actual, true, existent
These adjectives mean not being imaginary but having verifiable existence. Real implies authenticity, genuineness, or factuality: Don't lose the bracelet; it's made of real gold. She showed real sympathy for my predicament.
Actual means existing and not merely potential or possible: "rocks, trees ... the actual world" (Henry David Thoreau).
True implies consistency with fact, reality, or actuality: "It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true" (Bertrand Russell).
Existent applies to what has life or being: Much of the beluga caviar existent in the world is found near the Caspian Sea. See Also Synonyms at authentic.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.