Real life is a term with multiple meanings. It is most often used to mean life or consensus reality outside of an environment that is generally seen as fiction or fantasy, such as something on the Internet, virtual reality, a dream, a novel, a movie, a hallucination, or a delusion. Online the abbreviation RL stands for "real life", with the meaning "not on the Internet" (see below).

It is sometimes used synonymously with real world to mean one's existence after he or she is done with schooling and is no longer supported by parents, i.e. the practical world versus the academic world.[1] A person with experience in "real life" or "the real world" has experience beyond book learning.

Real life can be a controversial term. Some people use it as a value judgement to describe "productive" activities, specifically jobs or the support of one's family. However, many speakers use the phrase in an ironic sense to describe an alternative to their own activities, which may be valued as more important.

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