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Authentic vs. Real: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 6, 2023
Authentic refers to being genuine and original, while real pertains to the actual existence or reality of something.

Key Differences

Authenticity suggests originality or adherence to original features, whereas being real means existing in fact, not imitation. Authenticity involves a certain depth of originality, a fidelity to an original or a historical fact. On the other hand, reality is concerned with existence or presence in the world, regardless of whether something is original or a replica.
Authentic items bear the mark of legitimacy or an undisputed origin, but real items are simply not fake or imaginary. An authentic work of art was created by the artist to whom it's attributed, while a real work of art is simply a tangible object, not a figment of imagination or a digital fake.
While authenticity carries connotations of sincerity and integrity, realness is a broader concept pertaining to existence. An authentic person behaves in a way that is true to their personality, values, and beliefs, while a real person is someone who exists as a living being rather than a fictional character.
In the context of experiences, authentic experiences are true to their origins and culturally accurate, whereas real experiences are those that actually occur. For instance, an authentic cultural experience means engaging with traditions that are historically accurate, while a real experience is one that you undergo, whether it's authentic or artificial.
Authentic materials are made from the substance originally used or proposed by the original maker, while real materials are those that are natural or not synthetic. An authentic antique is made from materials available during its original time period, whereas a real material, such as real leather, is made from the hide of an animal rather than being a man-made imitation.

Comparison Chart


Refers to an original source or true to the original.
Pertains to actual existence, not counterfeit.


Implies cultural or historical veracity.
Indicates existence within the physical world.


Conveys sincerity and adherence to original characteristics.
Shows factual presence or being.


Composed of original substances specified or intended by the creator.
Made of natural or genuine elements, not artificial.


Culturally or historically accurate.
Actually occurring or felt.

Authentic and Real Definitions


Genuine in nature or quality.
The authentic flavor of the dish comes from traditional spices.


Legitimate or having legal validity.
She is the real heir to the throne, according to the law.


Made or done in the traditional way.
The artisan crafted an authentic replica of an ancient weapon.


Not imitation or artificial; genuine.
The necklace was made of real pearls, not plastic.


Verified as true to its origins.
The museum displayed an authentic Van Gogh painting.


Sincere and authentic in feelings or character.
His concern for the homeless is real, not just for show.


Representing one’s true nature or beliefs.
She gave an authentic account of her experiences in the interview.


Actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact.
Ghosts are not considered real by scientists.


Conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief.
The documents were confirmed as authentic by the expert.


Reflecting the essential or genuine character of something.
The documentary captured the real lives of the people.


Conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief
An authentic account by an eyewitness.


Being or occurring in fact or actuality; having verifiable existence
Real objects.
A real illness.


Being so in fact; not fraudulent or counterfeit
An authentic medieval sword.


True and actual; not imaginary, alleged, or ideal
Real people, not ghosts.
A film based on real life.


Can a reproduction be considered authentic?

A reproduction can be considered authentic if it accurately replicates the details and quality of the original.

What is the meaning of real in terms of objects?

Real refers to objects that actually exist and are not imitations or reproductions.

Can something be real but not authentic?

Yes, something can be real (exist in reality) but not authentic (such as a good quality fake painting).

Does authentic always mean valuable?

While authentic items are often valuable due to their originality, not all authentic items are necessarily expensive.

Can experiences be authentic?

Yes, experiences can be authentic when they are genuine and culturally or historically accurate.

What does it mean when something is described as authentic?

Authentic means that something is original, genuine, or made in the traditional way that maintains its true qualities.

Is authentic the same as original?

Yes, authentic often means that something is the original or made in a way that faithfully resembles the original.

Does real imply truth?

Real implies an objective existence or fact, not necessarily truth in terms of correctness or honesty.

Is real leather considered authentic?

Real leather is considered authentic if it is genuine leather, not a synthetic imitation.

How do we determine if something is authentic?

Authenticity is often determined by verification of origin, materials, and adherence to traditional methods.

What does it mean when a person is described as real?

When a person is described as real, it means they are genuine in their character or emotions.

Can something be less authentic?

Yes, something can be less authentic if it diverges from the original source or is modified significantly.

Is authentic related to quality?

Authenticity can relate to quality, especially when it means true to the original's design, materials, or craftsmanship.

Can a story be authentic?

A story can be authentic if it's based on actual events or told in a way that is true to the original narrative.

Does real gold mean it's authentic gold?

Real gold is authentic in the sense that it is genuine gold and not an imitation.

What does it mean when feelings are described as real?

Feelings described as real are sincere and not pretended or artificial.

Can virtual objects be real or authentic?

Virtual objects can be considered real within their digital context and authentic if they faithfully replicate or represent something genuine.

Is real the opposite of fake?

Yes, real is typically used as the opposite of fake or artificial.

Can foods be authentic?

Yes, foods can be considered authentic when they are prepared using traditional ingredients and methods.

Are authentic products always better?

Authentic products are often preferred for their originality, but "better" can be subjective depending on the context or use.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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