idea

noun \ ī-ˈdē-ə , -ˈdēə also ˈī-(ˌ)dē-ə or ˈī-dē \
Updated on: 9 Nov 2017

Definition of idea

1 a :a transcendent entity that is a real pattern of which existing things are imperfect representations
b :a standard of perfection :ideal
c :a plan for action :design
2 archaic :a visible representation of a conception :a replica of a pattern
3 a obsolete :an image recalled by memory
b :an indefinite or unformed conception
c :an entity (such as a thought, concept, sensation, or image) actually or potentially present to consciousness
4 :a formulated thought or opinion
5 :whatever is known or supposed about something
  • a child's idea of time
6 :the central meaning or chief end of a particular action or situation
7 Christian Science :an image in Mind

idealess

play \ī-ˈdē-ə-ləs, -ˈdēə- also ˈī-(ˌ)dē-ə- or ˈī-dē-\ adjective

Examples of idea in a Sentence

  1. My idea is to study law.

  2. Starting her own business seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turned out badly.

  3. Whose idea was it to leave so early?

  4. My idea was that if we left early we could beat the crowd.

  5. Buying the car was a bad idea.

  6. I have some ideas for redecorating the room.

  7. He has an idea for a movie.

  8. I'm not sure what to do next. Do you have any ideas?

  9. She's always full of new ideas.

  10. It's a good idea to talk to people who have actually been there.

Recent Examples of idea from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'idea.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of idea

Middle English, from Latin, from Greek, from idein to see — more at wit

Synonym Discussion of idea

idea, concept, conception, thought, notion, impression mean what exists in the mind as a representation (as of something comprehended) or as a formulation (as of a plan). idea may apply to a mental image or formulation of something seen or known or imagined, to a pure abstraction, or to something assumed or vaguely sensed.
    • innovative ideas
    • my idea of paradise
concept may apply to the idea formed by consideration of instances of a species or genus or, more broadly, to any idea of what a thing ought to be.
    • a society with no concept of private property
conception is often interchangeable with concept; it may stress the process of imagining or formulating rather than the result.
    • our changing conception of what constitutes art
thought is likely to suggest the result of reflecting, reasoning, or meditating rather than of imagining.
    • commit your thoughts to paper
notion suggests an idea not much resolved by analysis or reflection and may suggest the capricious or accidental.
    • you have the oddest notions
impression applies to an idea or notion resulting immediately from some stimulation of the senses.
    • the first impression is of soaring height

IDEA Defined for English Language Learners

idea

noun

Definition of idea for English Language Learners

  • : a thought, plan, or suggestion about what to do

  • : an opinion or belief

  • : something that you imagine or picture in your mind


IDEA Defined for Kids

idea

noun \ ī-ˈdē-ə \

Definition of idea for Students

1 :a thought or plan about what to do
  • Surprising her was a bad idea.
2 :something imagined or pictured in the mind I had an idea of what the town was like.
3 :an understanding of something
  • I have no idea what you mean.
4 :a central meaning or purpose
  • The idea of the game is to keep from getting caught.
5 :an opinion or belief
  • What gave you that idea?

Medical Dictionary

idea

noun \ ī-ˈdē-ə , ˈīd-(ˌ)ē-ə \

medical Definition of idea

1 :an entity (as a thought, concept, sensation, or image) actually or potentially present to consciousness
2 :a formulated thought or opinion


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