Definition of unreal in English:



  • 1Imaginary or illusory.

    ‘in the half-light the tiny cottages seemed unreal’
    • ‘From the point of view of taxation, there is nothing unreal or imaginary about that.’
    • ‘It has a wonderful atmosphere about it, with larger-than-life characters and a slightly unreal, fantasy feel.’
    • ‘The event took just ten minutes, and when it was the turn for the questions, Anne felt a weird sensation, everything was so unreal.’
    • ‘Before, thoughts of Angela seemed distant, unreal, like a hallucination or an imaginary tale.’
    • ‘Being seven floors up, the ground looked unreal and the people were tiny little creatures of little importance.’
    • ‘There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false.’
    • ‘The distant firefight, when it could be heard, sounded strangely unreal, almost as if someone had a piece of bubble wrap and had wrung it so that random bubbles popped and cracked.’
    • ‘What was always an improbable scenario, the Granita restaurant myth, has become a quite unreal fantasy.’
    • ‘Technology has only recently been freed from the unreal fantasies that surrounded its discourse and the model put forth here attempts develop this emerging imagery.’
    • ‘Eventually the brief day begins to feel unreal, an illusory comfort for those who cannot take the unrelenting darkness.’
    • ‘The intention was to evoke an unreal elsewhere, an imaginary place both freaky and familiar.’
    • ‘It would be absurd to say that holes in socks are unreal and illusory just because the hole isn't made of anything and is purely an absence.’
    • ‘But all the clips make the stories look fantastical, unreal.’
    • ‘Effects-wise, this is a stunning film, not content with conventional photography when there is a distinctly unreal feeling, seeing the camera pull right through glass and grating.’
    • ‘But I spent my adolescence in a country town, and from there, it's the city that's the unreal and very-far-away fantasyland.’
    • ‘In placing him as a real man in unreal circumstances, Mann enhances Ali's legend.’
    • ‘Usually, Margaret is much too ‘smart’ to believe something so fantastical, so unreal.’
    • ‘However, I also thought that at times he wandered off into a mist of hypothetical, unreal situations.’
    • ‘Everything in Ilija's work is unreal and ahistorical, fantastic and imaginative.’
    • ‘The speed and flexibility which strategy software offers can also take the user into an unreal world where reality merges into fantasy.’
    imaginary, imagined, fictitious, pretend, make-believe, made-up, dreamed-up, non-existent, mock, false, invented, illusory, mythical, fanciful, fancied, fantastic, fabulous, legendary, chimerical, fairy-tale, phantasmagoric
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    1. 1.1North American informal Incredible; amazing.
      • ‘Approaching them, from the distance was a peculiar small man who ran with unreal speed.’
      • ‘The speed and strength of their attacks was phenomenal and bordered on unreal.’
      • ‘Kids started to mosh and for a moment I thought this was unreal.’
      • ‘‘It was unreal, absolutely terrifying,’ she says.’
      • ‘She said for the 10th time since I'd told her my extraordinary news, ‘This is just unreal.’’
      • ‘Jeremy said: ‘The amount of times we've read that we're Irish or out to save the world is unreal.’’
      • ‘Like so many young families juggling workplace demands, family commitments, unreal housing prices and rising home loan interest rates, the income she earned was welcome.’
      • ‘‘It was amazing when they called my name, I could hardly hear it, everyone was jumping out of the seats, it was unreal,’ she smiles.’
      • ‘‘It would have been amazing to play there, completely unreal,’ added 25-year-old Bell.’
      • ‘The speeds and turns were unreal, it was amazing.’
      • ‘To think that it came from my dad's shop is just unreal.’
      • ‘‘He's so brave it's unreal,’ explained his mum, Heather.’
      • ‘She was asked to come along and see her daughter receiving a First Aid Certificate and her surprise was unreal when she saw it was her party in full swing.’
      • ‘She felt it immediately; an unreal sensation, as though the ground had dropped from beneath her.’
      • ‘The tension in the room was unreal, but each individual sat wondering why a meeting should be called.’
      • ‘Just to be there was unreal, but the stress was unbelievable.’
      extraordinary, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvellous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious
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  • 2Unrealistic.

    ‘many people have unreal expectations of marriage’
    • ‘Rushed consultation and planning inevitably lead to unreal expectations, delays in implementation, and failure to deliver planned benefits.’
    • ‘By proclaiming that mothers are the best option for the children in every case, they are set up for unreal expectations.’
    • ‘Significantly, none of the reviews which complain of the film's complexity argue that the construction of the story is somehow unbelievable or unreal.’
    • ‘We think that they may have had an unreal expectation of the impact of the intervention in primary care, perhaps reflecting the absence of primary care researchers in the study team.’
    • ‘"Of course, that denotes a very passionate nature, but one with unreal expectations of love.’
    • ‘More recent comments have drifted in the direction of the threat to social partnership being created by unreal pay expectations.’
    • ‘And of course, it would be unreal to expect ‘real women’ willing to be featured in their bras and undies on billboards!’
    • ‘Reality can't compete with unreal expectations.’
    • ‘What worries me about the way this modest and thoughtful policy has been rolled out is the unreal expectations invested in it by politicians, and the ideological message in which it is wrapped.’
    • ‘With Padmanabhan's keen sense of the telling detail in human situations, that theoretical world seems too unreal and far-fetched.’
    • ‘As with Modern Maenad I found this incredibly written poorly with unreal, card board cut-out characters.’
    • ‘Now we demand that our celebrities shoulder that burden, saddling them with our hopes and the heavy weight of our often unreal expectations.’
    • ‘The result is the current dishonesty: an unreal discussion of danger that captivates the imagination of our population and most influential bodies and individuals.’
    • ‘And Krissi is the perfect solution for people like me, who have unreal expectations about their capabilities.’
    • ‘I mean, it is a little bit unreal if we have to pretend that family support is not a factor in these matters.’
    • ‘This was partly because of the unreal expectations that had been built up beforehand, and to which we in the media undoubtedly contributed.’
    • ‘‘We work because we never had unreal expectations of what the band was supposed to be doing,’ says MacArthur.’
    • ‘Part of the problem with the parliament is, as commentator Iain McWhirter says, naive idealism and, after a 300-year break, unreal expectations.’
    • ‘The main problem is that most of the passion takes the form of rage - about the combination of ridiculous workload and unreal expectations.’