the cherishing or pursuit of high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc.
the practice of idealizing.
something idealized; an ideal representation.
Fine Arts. treatment of subject matter in a work of art in which a mental conception of beauty or form is stressed, characterized usually by the selection of particular features of various models and their combination into a whole according to a standard of perfection. Compare naturalism ( def 2 ), realism ( def 3a ).
any system or theory that maintains that the real is of the nature of thought or that the object of external perception consists of ideas.
the tendency to represent things in an ideal form, or as they might or should be rather than as they are, with emphasis on values.

1790–1800; ideal + -ism, probably modeled on German Idealismus

anti-idealism, noun
overidealism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
idealism (aɪˈdɪəˌlɪzəm)
1.  belief in or pursuance of ideals
2.  the tendency to represent things in their ideal forms, rather than as they are
3.  materialism Compare dualism any of a group of philosophical doctrines that share the monistic view that material objects and the external world do not exist in reality independently of the human mind but are variously creations of the mind or constructs of ideas

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

idealism definition

An approach to philosophy that regards mind, spirit, or ideas as the most fundamental kinds of reality, or at least as governing our experience of the ordinary objects in the world. Idealism is opposed to materialism, naturalism, and realism. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was an idealist; so was Immanuel Kant.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The drive toward a greener future doesn't stem from idealism.
His ardour and idealism prepare us for the deeper spiritual sublimity of the
  puritan poet.
The idea is simple, but unhappily it has been a long time reaching us, being
  hindered by idealism and sentimentality.
It seems to me that the idealism of being able to duplicate nature's steaks is
  misguided and counter productive.
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