• The property of a person of having high ideals that are usually unrealizable or at odds with practical life.
  • The practice or habit of giving or attributing ideal form or character to things; treatment of things in art or literature according to ideal standards or patterns;—opposed to realism.
  • An approach to philosophical enquiry, which asserts that direct and immediate knowledge can only be had of ideas or mental pictures.


  • First attested 1796, from ideal + -ism.

Modern English dictionary

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