Main definitions of real in English

: real1real2



  • 1Actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.

    ‘Julius Caesar was a real person’
    ‘a story drawing on real events’
    ‘her many illnesses, real and imaginary’
    • ‘They make a big point on their site of assuring the viewer that the tank is in fact, not real.’
    • ‘In this decision, I am not jettisoning all case law developed by judicial decision on the facts of real cases.’
    • ‘Young Miller was, in fact, the only real striking prospect Scotland had seen in some time.’
    • ‘A problem does not exist in splendid isolation as a concrete fact in the real world.’
    • ‘Sometimes I do this thing where I imagine that I'm reporting the events that aren't real.’
    • ‘That could affect their opinion before they hear the facts in a real trial.’
    • ‘Why do you attack them without bothering to do any real investigation of the situation?’
    • ‘It seems far-fetched but most of the things that happened in the first series were actually based on real events.’
    • ‘The first setup reflects the situation in which a real data set is under scrutiny.’
    • ‘It is also the most imaginative, least dated, and actually has some real Gaelic.’
    • ‘I suppose real macaroni pie uses this kind, but I was never able to find it in the United States.’
    • ‘This may sound strange and unbelievable to you, but it is real and true.’
    • ‘In fact, the only real effect of his advancing age on his music has been to make him work with even greater concentration.’
    • ‘I don't think I've ever had to work under any real pressure, either real or imagined.’
    • ‘So if Cold Fusion is real, I imagine some major physics needs a rethink.’
    • ‘He was awed with the fact that they were real, but realized that she needed help quickly.’
    • ‘He could hear an odd rushing sound, but he couldn't tell if it was real or imagined.’
    • ‘The scene from the bank ‘falsely portrayed’ is in fact an accurate portrayal of real events.’
    • ‘The only real difference I suppose is that the Russians had longer to prepare.’
    • ‘The real problem was the fact that no intelligent debate on organised crime had taken place, he said.’
    actual, existent, non-fictional, non-fictitious, factual
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Used to emphasize the significance or seriousness of a situation or circumstance.
      ‘there is a real danger of civil war’
      ‘the competitive threat from overseas is very real’
      • ‘The chances of a stock overhang negatively skewing the UK market good and proper are very real.’
      • ‘Naturally, there are real and significant human costs of modernisation.’
      • ‘Lord Cooke said that the label nuisance or negligence was of no real significance.’
      • ‘There is real concern that the situation in Darfur could derail the north-south peace deal.’
      • ‘I think there is a very real possibility, however, that you are an idiot.’
      • ‘Strangely I'm proud to be where I'm from but I'd have a real problem defining British.’
      • ‘Mr Shean felt that there were very real dangers in this situation with a fragmenting relationship.’
      • ‘The word may eventually cease to have any real significance, except in a historical context.’
      • ‘In fact, there are real questions about the viability and sustainability of this project.’
      • ‘I imagine he's having real trouble with the up-keep of his sprawling country estate at the moment.’
      • ‘It is important to emphasize the real differences which exist between them.’
      • ‘What he had to say will have real significance for the future of the devolution experiment.’
      • ‘We may think that in these passages there is no real distancing; what Socrates says is just what Plato thinks.’
      • ‘In this film, I play a biker out to woo someone, which is indeed a very real situation for me.’
      • ‘It is especially true for America, as well, because we are a country with very real isolationist tendencies.’
      • ‘The label nuisance or negligence is treated as being of no real significance.’
      • ‘There were only two or three companies with any real significance trying to tap into the same market.’
      • ‘When is something going to be done about this very real and sad situation?’
      • ‘But this applies only where the court is left in real doubt about the true meaning.’
      • ‘Making their job a real chore is the fact that he keeps showing up in Trish's shadow, so smitten is he.’
      • ‘If we fail to do so, we will inevitably fail to gauge the real significance of the changes which are occurring.’
    2. 1.2Philosophy Relating to something as it is, not merely as it may be described or distinguished.
      • ‘Things like Money, Love, Countries are extended fictions that are very much part of our world but not real.’
      • ‘By formal essence Spinoza means the real and independent nature of God.’
      • ‘Only knowledge of real essence, which we don't have and are unlikely to get, would provide that.’
      • ‘Phenomenology involves a radical change in all such positings of real existence.’
      • ‘Most generally, Locke had argued famously that real essences are unknowable.’
  • 2(of a substance or thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine.

    ‘the earring was presumably real gold’
    • ‘Try it, however, and a uniformed attendant will inform you it is art and that it is plated in real gold.’
    • ‘She slipped a tiny elastic banding ring over the long metal pin which connects my real leg to the artificial one.’
    • ‘He said that in many incidents police did not know if a weapon was real or imitation unless it was recovered later.’
    • ‘We learned the most expensive tea ware is made from a kind of purple clay flecked with real gold.’
    • ‘He paid tribute to the bravery of the police involved in making the arrests, as they had not known whether the gun was real or imitation.’
    • ‘But real coffee, roasted and ground and turned to seductive liquid, is a true pleasure.’
    • ‘Is that his real hair colour?’
    • ‘The possession of guns, both real and imitation, lies predominantly with young people.’
    • ‘Trying to find anything up there is like trying to guess my real hair colour.’
    • ‘A quick bite of the card was taken just to check just how real the gold was.’
    • ‘The Buddha sculptures and even the bricks on the ground are carved with real gold.’
    • ‘I want to be able to go over to Brick Lane in the East End to eat a real, genuine London bagel.’
    • ‘Long and shaggy, in real or imitation fur, Yeti coats are ideal partners against the cold.’
    • ‘She said she would today lay both artificial and real flowers, but she was not being disrespectful in any way.’
    • ‘This lightly scented gel contains particles of real gold to enhance the face or décolletage.’
    • ‘In the past they've also had genuine stag and real ivory, both of which are now very hard to come by.’
    • ‘He realised that the answer to his business problems was to provide machines that made real coffee with fresh milk.’
    • ‘Anyway, this year the whole family were gathered round so it was time to buy a real, genuine Christmas tree.’
    • ‘Then I got into pre-ground real coffee, and I guess I stuck at that for years.’
    • ‘I was a bit disappointed that he had questioned whether my hair was real.’
    sincere, genuine, true, unfeigned, unpretended, heartfelt, from the heart, unaffected, earnest, wholehearted, fervent, honest, truthful
    genuine, authentic, bona fide, pukka
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1True or actual.
      ‘his real name is James’
      ‘this isn't my real reason for coming’
      • ‘These hard facts indicate real motives behind enactment of this draconian law.’
      • ‘It seems that the state and central governments have been hiding the real facts.’
      • ‘In fact, the real shift that is taking place is very different from this.’
      • ‘This view has taken hold even despite the fact that the real dynamic of progress is currently unremarkable.’
      • ‘I hope I can show and tell you the real, true Japan that cannot be seen in other mas media.’
      • ‘But the point is that it is true, and the real question is the character of the candidate who tried to conceal his past.’
      • ‘In fact, submerging your real identity even as you fake sincerity seems to be positively encouraged.’
      • ‘I would guess that most people watching this sort of news item do not sit there and imagine the real horror.’
      • ‘It has come out of the real situation that I see around me, where marriages are failing.’
      • ‘Rather than trying to sue Americans into submission, imagine a real solution for the problem.’
      • ‘The real glory was the fact that most of the postings were not from members.’
      • ‘Jeff takes them to the ruined house where the last lot disappeared and where the real witch was supposed to have been murdered.’
      • ‘Now, in all fairness - we have not verified that this post was in fact penned by the real Miss Simpson.’
      • ‘I suppose the real test is what happens over the next few months and how we keep the friendship going.’
      • ‘The fact that real terrorists tend not to send letters before they plant bombs seemed not to occur to officials.’
      • ‘If we take all of these criticisms as true, then the real blame belongs to the White House.’
      • ‘The real significance of publications such as this are often only really treasured years later.’
      • ‘This is true, but the real crisis in legitimacy is caused by differential abstention rates.’
      • ‘Yes, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and fun night and real stars did in fact emerge.’
      • ‘The person sitting in front of the fire was shocked that the facts of the real story had been so misconstrued.’
      true, actual
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2[attributive](of a person or thing) rightly so called; proper.
      ‘he's my idea of a real man’
      ‘Jamie is my only real friend’
      • ‘It's so nice to be at a proper keyboard with a real mouse instead of those stupid touch pad things.’
      • ‘Living this way is a good way to determine who your real friends are.’
      • ‘If you don't want to tell an adult, you can tell a friend - but my real advice is to just chill.’
      • ‘There was in fact no real commitment from the Account Holder at all.’
      • ‘Or if you want to be a real friend invite them along now for the ride.’
      • ‘And now he says he wants everyone to know who their real friends and enemies were.’
      • ‘If you take June as your real friend, then you shouldn't say that about her!’
      • ‘Back in the days between leaving college and finding a real job, my friends and I drank like the proverbial fishes.’
      • ‘In fact, a real network culture developed only in the 1840s and this is studied by Caron in the second part of his book.’
      • ‘The only real anti-climax is the fact that it is all over way too soon.’
      • ‘All agreed he is a true genius and a real perfectionist with timing and sound.’
      • ‘So there is no real tension on the facts of this case between the judges of the Family Court on that issue.’
      • ‘One critic has rightly described them as our real National Theatre.’
      • ‘He dared to be honest and have integrity and do what a real journalist is supposed to do.’
      • ‘The theory that there are no real enemies and friends in the film world, as in politics, is highlighted.’
      • ‘My day here has been a complete waste of time, as it is most days in fact - a real waste of petrol.’
      • ‘Little did I realize that this first political activity would lead me to a life of devotion to true justice and real freedom.’
      • ‘This is the beginning of the real and true economics of information.’
      • ‘If war is when leaders discover themselves, it is also when parties discover who, in fact, their real leaders are.’
      • ‘Everyone will be thinking about what type of real man uses something artificial to get a tan.’
      proper, true, rightly so called
      View synonyms
  • 3informal [attributive] Complete; utter (used for emphasis)

    ‘the tour turned out to be a real disaster’
    • ‘The chassis inspires real confidence, feels perfectly balanced and even gets better as you push it harder.’
    • ‘If they don't take on the role of guardians there is going to be a real disaster.’
    • ‘Yet the real disaster will be if Pyongyang continues on its present road to nowhere.’
    • ‘I get a real sense of completion, no matter how small the thing I am completing is.’
    • ‘It would turn into a disaster for Tom as a problem made the car a real handful.’
    • ‘The latest result betrays a real inferiority complex within the Irish mindset.’
    • ‘It was a perfect day, a real community occasion, and one which will long be remembered by everyone.’
    • ‘He remembers his time there with real fondness and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.’
    • ‘I think most people in this country see it's beginning to be a real disaster.’
    • ‘What happened next, he explains could lead to a real disaster in the future.’
    • ‘The player's decision is a disaster for his club, a real kick in the teeth for his employers.’
    • ‘It paints a picture of real disasters on a global scale, in a set order and with attendant statistics.’
    • ‘You'd never forget as you go through the film what real disaster has happened here.’
    • ‘Most Zambian roads and what are called bridges especially in rural areas, are a real disaster.’
    • ‘So their reactions were similar to what would be found at the scene of a real disaster.’
    • ‘The chorus is a real grower, complete with excellent guitar flourishes.’
    complete, utter, thorough, absolute, total, prize, perfect, veritable
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  • 4[attributive] Adjusted for changes in the value of money; assessed by purchasing power.

    ‘real incomes had fallen by 30 percent’
    ‘an increase in real terms of 11.6 percent’
    • ‘Only by demanding more cash balances and thus lowering prices can the dollars assume a higher real value.’
    • ‘We will maintain the value of welfare benefits in real terms plus economic growth - no more.’
    • ‘Duisenberg did not comment on how much the prices increased in real terms.’
    • ‘But high population growth means that this is a contraction in real terms.’
    • ‘So today's prices are, in real terms, at little more than half their highest levels.’
    • ‘This sounds a lot of money, but in real terms it will support just eight schemes.’
    • ‘Inflation also eats into the real value of the income from market returns received by farmers.’
    • ‘An unanticipated decline in the price level increases the value of firms' liabilities in real terms.’
    • ‘Funding for education is set to rise in real terms, over and above extra money for teachers' salary pay increases.’
    • ‘In real terms members are thus receiving less benefits for paying higher contributions.’
    • ‘If anything, the average market value of a scientist seems to be going down in real terms.’
    • ‘By the end of the decade, inflation had halved the real value of football payments.’
    • ‘If that real value isn't there, then you should look at ways to introduce it or you shouldn't be there at all.’
    • ‘It only underscores my point that the real value of the Rand should be in that region.’
    • ‘Besides, the real value for money lies in the fact that paying a few pence more benefits so many.’
    • ‘In real terms, the study shows that household incomes have declined to 1989 levels.’
    • ‘It is real savings and not money that fund and make possible the production of better tools and machinery.’
    • ‘Figures suggest that the minimum amount of money needed for subsistence is on the rise in real terms.’
    • ‘A consultant needs to add real value to an organisation to justify a fee of hundreds a day.’
    • ‘The cost of housing will fall in real terms if the CPI exceeds the rate of house price inflation.’
  • 5Law
    Of fixed property (i.e., land and buildings), as distinct from personal property.

    ‘he lost nearly all of his real holdings’
    • ‘As a general rule, real property acquisition right has not been recognized to the foreign legal entities in our legislation.’
    • ‘It has not mattered, for these purposes, whether the security was over real or personal property.’
    • ‘The distinction between real and personal property is an ancient one and is still of importance today.’
    • ‘Real property also includes many legal relationships between individuals or owners of land that are purely conceptual.’
  • 6Mathematics
    (of a number or quantity) having no imaginary part.

    • ‘What you're doing is making it stick out along the real number line twice as far away from the origin.’
    • ‘If we take two real numbers and multiply them together, we get another real number.’
    • ‘Cardan was the first to realise that one could work with quantities more general than the real numbers.’
    • ‘Some of the symbols written down will form the sequences of figures which is the decimal of the real number which is being computed.’
    • ‘In this case, this is not a problem, since the domain of the sine function is all real numbers.’
  • 7Optics
    (of an image) of a kind in which the light that forms it actually passes through it; not virtual.

    • ‘The only thing which would lead you to believe that these are not real images are the colours are simply too vivid and the imagery too sharp.’
    • ‘We saw in the last section that a real image is formed by light moving through a convex lens.’
    • ‘Real images occur when objects are placed outside the focal length of a converging lens or outside the focal length of a converging mirror.’
    • ‘It is easiest to observe real images when projected on an opaque screen.’
    • ‘You don't see the real image formed by the camera lens, but you get a rough idea of what is in view.’


North American
  • [as submodifier] Really; very.

    ‘my head hurts real bad’
    • ‘It is a real nice setup that works to help out beginners but doesn't annoy veterans.’
    • ‘For a while, his brain was swollen so he hung his head like someone with a real bad headache.’
    • ‘It has been too warm lately and with long hair the dog gets real warm.’
    • ‘Whilst on the subject of friends I have met some real nice and interesting people in my few months here.’
    • ‘They can be real nice to you when you are the passenger, but when you are a fellow motorist, they will terrorize you.’
    • ‘We actually work in a room with no windows, but we decorated it real nice for Christmas.’
    • ‘If you take a picture, it just happens to look real nice if you show a little more than two thirds sky.’
    • ‘All I know is my head hurt real bad during that time and then it was gone after a while.’
    • ‘You have to say it real fast and furious while you assume the correct position with your palms.’
    • ‘He had a real homely and jolly down to earth manner that endeared him to all.’
    extremely, exceedingly, exceptionally, especially, tremendously, immensely, vastly, hugely
    View synonyms


  • for real

    • 1informal Used to assert that something is genuine or is actually the case.

      ‘I'm not playing games—this is for real!’
      • ‘You get so used to seeing them on the news, I suppose, that seeing them for real doesn't come as a surprise.’
      • ‘Do you want this guy for real, or are you just looking for great taste, less filling?’
      • ‘It almost sends a frisson of fear down one's spine as if it were all for real.’
      • ‘By the time the concert began for real I was already sick of hearing the overture's opening bars.’
      • ‘If this is the real world, away from all the carnage and desolation, than this cannot be for real.’
      • ‘Well, I have understood it partly, but one thing I knew for sure, this guy is for real and he is world class.’
      • ‘Someone wondered if all the questions on the page were for real, or if I made any up.’
      • ‘It didn't work until I saw it for real, then hearing it worked.’
      • ‘It's not happening for real so it simply becomes a question of whether or not you believe it has narrative utility.’
      • ‘People have got used to hearing sterile music, but we do it for real.’
      1. 1.1North American Used in questions to express surprise or to question the truth or seriousness of what one has seen or heard.
        ‘are these guys for real?’
        • ‘I closed the door behind him, not completely sure if he was joking or if he was for real.’
        • ‘Will could only muster up a blank stare at this point, wondering if she was for real.’
        • ‘By the time you hear the raver's whistle, you have to ask yourself if the Brothers are for real.’
        • ‘Is This Guy For Real? This Republican candidate has a slim chance of making it to the White House.’
        • ‘Is that little guy for real? Does he say where he gets his energy from, or is it part of a act?’
        • ‘They mostly try to pull it off with a straight face, and play everything for real.’
  • get real!

    • informal Used to convey that an idea or statement is foolish or overly idealistic.

      ‘You want teens to have committed sexual relationships? Get real!’
      • ‘‘What did you think she would do,’ he asked himself. ‘Did you think she would just jump into your arms and everything would be perfect like it use to be? Man, get real!’’
      • ‘The opposition need to get real on the issue of social mobility.’
      • ‘It’s time to get real about loyalty.’
      • ‘When foot-and-mouth disease took hold in Yorkshire last year, a schoolgirl touched the nation's hearts by telling the Prime Minister to ‘get real!’’
  • real live

    • humorous Used to emphasize the existence of something, especially if it is surprising or unusual.

      ‘a real live detective had been at the factory’
      • ‘Their problems are more complicated than hunger or lack of shelter, and that means they need real live people helping them out.’
      • ‘I believe this is where real live performers steal the show.’
      • ‘Have I ever shared with you my actual fear of real live trains?’
      • ‘Yes, a real live tug-of-war; just like the times of old, when merely killing the odd dragon here and there wasn't enough to prove your strength.’
      • ‘The fire alarm went off, and we thought it was a real live fire.’
      • ‘After three years I am actually taking a real live vacation where I pack a suitcase, get on a plane, and sleep in a hotel.’
      • ‘So read books or listen to books or watch TV or listen to music or walk around in silence or have a conversation with some real live people.’
      • ‘Your job is to, once you have been presented with a real live child, help encourage that child's interest in the best way that you can.’
      • ‘He had the advantage of hearing some actual real live witnesses, I gather?’
      • ‘I think there is a real live monkey living in my computer and he messes with my head by dealing me hands that cannot be won.’
  • real money

    • informal Money in a large or significant amount.

      • ‘That represents real money, not just a creative, government money shuffle.’
      • ‘With all the money spent on advertising, they may never make any real money.’
      • ‘While the tourist trade is always welcome, the real money is in exports.’
      • ‘We have put real money into health, we have put real money into education, and we have put real money into infrastructure.’
      • ‘Yet, as anyone who has ever changed money here knows, real money gets quite a scrutiny before it is accepted and changed.’
      • ‘The Brits called it giving real people a real chance to win real money.’
      • ‘The girls end up with real money and they use it well by laughing at the tax man and the bigger mugs in society (you and me)?’
      • ‘The real money is at home and the real money is amongst the oil fields of the Middle East.’
      • ‘That's hardly fair, as Google is a profitable advertising broker that makes real money, not funny money.’
      • ‘I believe in real money going into our public services - real money going into our schools and hospitals.’
  • the real thing

    • informal A thing that is absolutely genuine or authentic.

      ‘you've never been in love before, so how can you be sure this is the real thing?’
      • ‘We opted for the real thing and settled down for an evening of sea shanties and claustrophobia.’
      • ‘Would you feel as comfortable wearing a counterfeit expensive watch as the real thing?’
      • ‘Having written a soundtrack for films that have never been made, it only made sense for him to take a crack at the real thing.’
      • ‘You can sample the real thing in any bar as joints are hung above the counter waiting to be sliced up into tapas.’
      • ‘The fact is that he has never seen the real thing, and does his best to produce a substantial dish.’


Late Middle English (as a legal term meaning relating to things, especially real property): from Anglo-Norman French, from late Latin realis, from Latin res thing.

Main definitions of real in English

: real1real2



  • 1The basic monetary unit of Brazil since 1994, equal to 100 centavos.

    • ‘We've benefited in fact because a large percentage of our development costs are in Brazilian reals.’
    • ‘Plus, currencies in these markets have strengthened, meaning returns in Hungarian forints or Brazilian reals get a boost when rendered in dollars.’
    • ‘Part of the money will be available for buying reals.’
    • ‘Soon she was being paid 3,000 Brazilian reals a month to entertain spectators by ball-juggling during half-time.’
    • ‘The real has stabilized at its June 2002 level of less than 3 reals to the dollar, and investors are once again looking south.’
    1. 1.1A former coin and monetary unit of various Spanish-speaking countries.
      • ‘These coins were legal tender in the USA until 1857, as the young USA had few coins and many merchants preferred the Spanish Reals to USA coinage.’
      • ‘My senses were all confused as within my sight was a king's ransom - Spanish gold doubloons and shining silver reals, gold pieces of eight, old English milled gold guineas, crowns, minted silver shillings.’
      • ‘Silver minted as Spanish reals or dollars, and in the 19th century as Mexican dollars, reached Asia via the London silver market.’


Portuguese and Spanish, literally royal (adjective used as a noun).