surreal

If you see a bus crash into someone’s front porch while a caged dog barks in the side yard, near a man in a business suit who is grilling hamburgers, you might call that a surreal image. Things that are surreal combine unrelated elements to create a bizarre scene.

The adjective surreal comes from Surrealism, a movement that produced films, writing, painting, and other art forms that often contained irrational, disjointed images. So, surreal describes something that’s a bizarre mix of elements, often jarring and seemingly nonsensical. Images can be surreal, like the melting clocks in Salvador Dali's paintings, but so can strange, dream-like moments in everyday life.

DEFINITIONS OF: surreal

1

adj characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions

“the incongruous imagery in surreal art and literature”
Synonyms:
phantasmagoric, phantasmagorical, surrealistic
unrealistic
not realistic

adj resembling a dream

“as irrational and surreal as a dream”
Synonyms:
dreamlike
unreal
not actually such; being or seeming fanciful or imaginary
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