AskDefine | Define visionary

Dictionary Definition

visionary adj : not practical or realizable; speculative; "airy theories about socioeconomic improvement"; "visionary schemes for getting rich" [syn: airy, impractical, Laputan]


1 a person given to fanciful speculations and enthusiasms with little regard for what is actually possible
2 a person with unusual powers of foresight [syn: illusionist, seer]

User Contributed Dictionary





having vision or foresight
imaginary or illusory
prophetic or revelatory
idealistic or utopian


  1. someone who has visions; a seer
  2. an impractical dreamer


someone who has visions
an impractical dreamer

Extensive Definition

Narrowly, a visionary is one who experiences a vision or apparition. Some people think the ability is supernatural, however everyone is capable of going into the vision state, via meditation, lucid dreams, or day dreams. In this sense, Hildegard of Bingen was a visionary.

Extended meanings

A vision can be political, religious, environmental, social, or technological in nature.
By extension, visionary came to mean also a person with a clear, distinctive and specific (in some details) vision of the future, usually connected with advances in technology or political arrangements. For example, Ted Nelson is referred to as a visionary in connection with the Internet. Other visionaries simply imagine what does not yet exist (but might be as visioning provides a glimpse of the future). Visioning sometimes sees what will never exist on Earth, but might exist in another realm, such as the ideal or perfect as imagined or thought of. Examples would be Buckminster Fuller in architecture, and some of the pioneers of personal computing such as Steve Jobs. Some mathematics might also be discoveries of some basic nature behind the universe. A visionary often functions as a secular prophet. Some visionaries emphasize communication, and some assume a figurehead role, rather than a practical implementation of visions.

In art criticism

Artists may produce art categorised as 'visionary' for its luminous content. (e.g. Samuel Palmer). An artist celebrated for his visionary take on ordinary life, based directly on religious views, is Stanley Spencer.
Visionary art is incorrectly defined as a category of primitive art (art of those not formally trained) rather than describing people who have used their visions (or dreams) to create their paintings. Salvador Dali is one artist who would exemplify visionary art that is neither religious nor primitive.


visionary in Czech: Vizionář

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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