An interesting feature of human thinking is known as 'reifying': making real. Imagining that because we have a word for something, then there must exist a 'thing' that corresponds to the word. But then, what about 'bravery' and 'cowardice'? Or 'tunnel'? In fact, what about 'hole'?

Many scientic concepts refer to things that are not real in the everyday sense in that they correspond to objects. For example, 'gravity' is accepted universally as an explanation for planetary motion, but what do we actually expect to see if we came across it? It is actually (as discovered by Einstein) just the tendency for objects not to move in straight lines, which we then reify as 'curved space'. For that matter, does 'space' itself exist, or is it just a privative? Similarly, many other concepts such as dark and cold are reified (some people may say to wear more clothes when it's cold to 'keep the cold out')

'Debt' and 'overdraft' are familiar concepts in our lives, but in fact they are just privatives. Today's derivatives market buys and sells debts and promises as though they actually exist, and these are reified as words and numbers on pieces of paper, or data in a computer. In fact, the more you consider, the more you'll notice that most of the world that we human beings interact with doesn't even exist at all. What exactly is the stock market? Or what does money actually represent for that matter?

Another interesting concept that is reified is Death. Often portrayed as a hooded skeleton carrying a scythe, it is actually just a privative for the absence of life. However, our fears of dying have lead to other reifications such as the soul or spirit of a body that must leave the body when it turns from a live body to a dead one. When a process stops, it's simply no longer 'there'. It doesn't continue on in another essence or form.

README file = R = real estate

real adj.

Not simulated. Often used as a specific antonym to virtual in any of its jargon senses.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Re"al (?), n. [Sp., fr. real royal, L. regalis. See Regal, and cf. Ree a coin.]

A small Spanish silver coin; also, a denomination of money of account, formerly the unit of the Spanish monetary system.

⇒ A real of plate (coin) varied in value according to the time of its coinage, from 12 down to 10 cents, or from 6 to 5 pence sterling. The real vellon, or money of account, was nearly equal to five cents, or 2 pence sterling. In 1871 the coinage of Spain was assimilated to that of the Latin Union, of which the franc is the unit.


© Webster 1913.

Re*al" (?), a.

Royal; regal; kingly.

[Obs.] "The blood real of Thebes."



© Webster 1913.

Re"al (?), a. [LL. realis, fr. L. res, rei, a thing: cf. F. r'eel. Cf. Rebus.]


Actually being or existing; not fictitious or imaginary; as, a description of real life.

Whereat I waked, and found
Before mine eyes all real, as the dream
Had lively shadowed.


True; genuine; not artificial; counterfeit, or factitious; often opposed to ostensible; as, the real reason; real Madeira wine; real ginger.

<-- split reason from objects. -->

Whose perfection far excelled
Hers in all real dignity.


Relating to things, not to persons.


Many are perfect in men's humors that are not greatly capable of the real part of business.

4. Alg.

Having an assignable arithmetical or numerical value or meaning; not imaginary.

5. Law

Pertaining to things fixed, permanent, or immovable, as to lands and tenements; as, real property, in distinction from personal or movable property.

Chattels real Law, such chattels as are annexed to, or savor of, the realty, as terms for years of land. See Chattel. -- Real action Law, an action for the recovery of real property. -- Real assets Law, lands or real estate in the hands of the heir, chargeable with the debts of the ancestor. -- Real composition Eccl.Law, an agreement made between the owner of lands and the parson or vicar, with consent of the ordinary, that such lands shall be discharged from payment of tithes, in consequence of other land or recompense given to the parson in lieu and satisfaction thereof. Blackstone. -- Real estateproperty, lands, tenements, and hereditaments; freehold interests in landed property; property in houses and land. Kent. Burrill. -- Real presence R. C. Ch., the actual presence of the body and blood of Christ in the eucharist, or the conversion of the substance of the bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ; transubstantiation. In other churches there is a belief in a form of real presence, not however in the sense of transubstantiation. -- Real servitude, called also Predial servitude CivilLaw, a burden imposed upon one estate in favor of another estate of another proprietor. Erskine. Bouvier.

Syn. -- Actual; true; genuine; authentic. -- Real, Actual. Real represents a thing to be a substantive existence; as, a real, not imaginary, occurrence. Actual refers to it as acted or performed; and, hence, when we wish to prove a thing real, we often say, "It actually exists," "It has actually been done." Thus its really is shown by its actually. Actual, from this reference to being acted, has recently received a new signification, namely, present; as, the actual posture of affairs; since what is now in action, or going on, has, of course, a present existence. An actual fact; a real sentiment.

For he that but conceives a crime in thought, Contracts the danger of an actual fault.

Our simple ideas are all real; all agree to the reality of things.


© Webster 1913.

Re"al (?), n.

A realist.




© Webster 1913.

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