If you see a goldfish fly out of a melting clock and offer you tango lessons, you’re having a surreal experience! Either that or you’re asleep and dreaming. 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. adjective
    characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions
    “the incongruous imagery in surreal art and literature”
    synonyms: phantasmagoric, phantasmagorical, surrealistic
    not realistic
  2. adjective
    resembling a dream
    “as irrational and surreal as a dream”
    synonyms: dreamlike
    not actually such; being or seeming fanciful or imaginary
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