1 actually 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.
• used 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.
• Philosophy relating to something as it is, not merely as it may be described or distinguished.
2 (of a substance or thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine : the earring was presumably real gold.
• true or actual : his real name is James | this isn’t my real reason for coming.
• [ attrib. ] (of a person or thing) rightly so called; proper : he’s my idea of a real man | Jamie is my only real friend.
3 [ attrib. ] informal complete; utter (used for emphasis) : the tour turned out to be a real disaster.
4 [ attrib. ] 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.
5 Mathematics (of a number or quantity) having no imaginary part. See imaginary .
6 Optics (of an image) of a kind in which the light that forms it actually passes through it; not virtual.
adverb [as submodifier ] informal
really; very : my head hurts real bad.
for real informal used to assert that something is genuine or is actually the case : I’m not playing games—this is for real! • 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?
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!
real live |ˈri(ə)l ˈlaɪv| humorous used to emphasize the existence of something, esp. if it is surprising or unusual : a real live detective had been at the factory.
real money informal money in a large or significant amount.
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?