a person who cherishes or pursues high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc.
Synonyms: optimist, perfectionist, reformer, visionary, utopianist.
Antonyms: pragmatist, skeptic, cynic.
a visionary or impractical person.
Synonyms: romantic, romanticist, dreamer, stargazer.
Antonyms: realist, materialist.
a person who represents things as they might or should be rather than as they are:
My friend is an idealist, who somehow thinks that we always agree.
a writer or artist who treats subjects imaginatively.
a person who accepts the doctrines of philosophical , as by representing things in an ideal form, or as they might or should be rather than as they are.
of or relating to or idealists; idealistic.
Contemporary Examples

You had to look at Olmert twice—as an idealist, and as a fitting candidate for governor of Illinois—to see him once.
The Man on a Mud-Stained Horse Gershom Gorenberg October 21, 2012

It is not an idealist, not a romantic call to ethics of conviction as opposed to ethics of responsibility.
Liberals Need to Learn to Say No Bernhard Schlink July 9, 2014

Then the idealist’s slimy past seemed to catch up with him: facing police investigations, he resigned.
The Man on a Mud-Stained Horse Gershom Gorenberg October 21, 2012

You’ve got to love an idealist willing to perform dental procedures to be with her kids.
God Bless My Nannies Laura Bennett February 11, 2009

He was a dreamer, an idealist, grounded in the reality he observed around him.
Mario Cuomo, Always Moving Us Toward the Light Mike Barnicle January 3, 2015

Historical Examples

The poem, then, is the work of a Hindu idealist who personified Bengal under the form of a purified and spiritualized Kali.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 6, Slice 1 Various

“The external world,” says the Materialist––“Does not exist,” says the idealist.
The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani

Keziah, in spite of her worldly common sense, was an idealist at heart.
Keziah Coffin Joseph C. Lincoln

Even our open-eyed Jewish idealist has been blest with ignorance of the actual.
Dreamers of the Ghetto I. Zangwill

Has the soul of the idealist been corroded by a life of ease?
Cappy Ricks Retires Peter B. Kyne


“one who represents things in an ideal form,” 1829, from ideal + -ist. Earlier (1796) in a philosophical sense “one who believes reality consists only in (Platonic) ideals.”

It seems even incredible, that any Idealist in any age could forget himself so far as to run his head against a post, merely because he found in his system, that no external world does exist, and that therefore nothing could be without to hurt him. [F.A. Nitsch, “A General and Introductory View of Professor Kant’s Principles,” 1796]

Earlier still, “one who holds doctrines of philosophical idealism” (1701).


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