ideal

adjective
ide·​al | \ ī-ˈdē(-ə)l How to pronounce ideal (audio) , ˈī-ˌdē(-ə)l\

Definition of ideal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or embodying an ideal ideal beauty
b : conforming exactly to an ideal, law, or standard : perfect an ideal gas — compare real sense 1c(3)
2a : existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only broadly : lacking practicality
b : relating to or constituting mental images, ideas, or conceptions
3 : of or relating to philosophical idealism
4 : existing as an archetypal idea

ideal

noun

Definition of ideal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence
2 : one regarded as exemplifying an ideal and often taken as a model for imitation
3 : an ultimate object or aim of endeavor : goal
4 : a subset of a mathematical ring that is closed under addition and subtraction and contains the products of any given element of the subset with each element of the ring

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Other Words from ideal

Noun

idealless \ ī-​ˈdē(-​ə)l-​ləs How to pronounce idealless (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for ideal

Noun

model, example, pattern, exemplar, ideal mean someone or something set before one for guidance or imitation. model applies to something taken or proposed as worthy of imitation. a decor that is a model of good taste example applies to a person to be imitated or in some contexts on no account to be imitated but to be regarded as a warning. children tend to follow the example of their parents pattern suggests a clear and detailed archetype or prototype. American industry set a pattern for others to follow exemplar suggests either a faultless example to be emulated or a perfect typification. cited Joan of Arc as the exemplar of courage ideal implies the best possible exemplification either in reality or in conception. never found a job that matched his ideal

Examples of ideal in a Sentence

Adjective

It was an ideal spot for a vacation. She is an ideal candidate for the job. The conference provided us with an ideal opportunity to meet new people.

Noun

an ideal of romantic love He hasn't lived up to his high ideals. She considers the actress her ideal.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Not an ideal situation for an Angels team that on Thursday struggled to pick up its starting pitcher. Los Angeles Times, "Angels are no match against Chris Sale in loss to Red Sox," 8 Aug. 2019 Others have wondered whether Samoans are genetically predisposed to developing the sort of bulky frame that’s ideal for linemen and linebackers. Rob Ruck, The Conversation, "I traveled to American Samoa 5 times to study the secret to its football success," 8 Aug. 2019 Being able to get a guy who has played football before, that’s the ideal situation to have in the quarterback position. Shannon Ryan, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Illinois enters yet another season trying to identify a quarterback — but this time, the 4 options seem promising," 6 Aug. 2019 Your brunches are ideal for this, not to mention a compassionate way to stay close. Carolyn Hax, Detroit Free Press, "How to tell a friend you dislike her partner," 6 Aug. 2019 Your brunches are ideal for this, not to mention a compassionate way to stay close. Adapted from a recent online discussion. Carolyn Hax, The Mercury News, "Carolyn Hax: Should I tell her why nobody wants to visit her?," 6 Aug. 2019 Although the home is in a prime location for any lucky Angeleno–with its proximity to bustling neighborhoods like La Brea, Melrose, Fairfax, and Hollywood–the privacy of Meghan’s new abode is probably more ideal for her new lifestyle. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "You Can Now Buy Meghan Markle’s Former L.A. Home—for $1.8 Million!," 5 Aug. 2019 This assortment of tops, skirts, and pants are not only soft to touch, but comfortable on the body: ideal for those unbearably hot days. Vogue, "Summer’s Hottest Month is Here, How to Beat the Heat Without Wearing a Dress," 2 Aug. 2019 Even the most waterproof of these options are ideal for summertime but don't offer protection from pesky sand or icy snow. Dan Q. Dao, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Waterproof Shoes You Can Wear for an Entire Trip," 2 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Restricted in scope and linked to specific threats, these limitations are based on the premise that protecting certain ideals, such as the public good or human dignity, can justify curbing what individuals are allowed to say. Aurelien Breeden, New York Times, "The El Paso Shooting Revived the Free Speech Debate. Europe Has Limits.," 6 Aug. 2019 The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show has long been criticized as a display of unattainable, unrealistic ideals of beauty. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Model: "Victoria's Secret show won't be happening this year"," 2 Aug. 2019 At YWCA, Kuhn championed progressive ideals, specifically ones that advocated for the rights of working women. Teen Vogue, "Who Was Maggie Kuhn, Co-Founder of the Elder Activist Group the Gray Panthers?," 2 Aug. 2019 As Life magazine ascended in popularity among the white American middle class, and depicted a new consumerist ideal, quotidian black American culture was conspicuously absent from the narratives. Syreeta Mcfadden, The Atlantic, "Why Ebony Magazine’s Archives Were Saved," 31 July 2019 Whether the 21st century becomes the Chinese Century in the full sense—with China dominating culture, ideals, and concepts of human rights and human nature—remains to be seen. Fortune, "It’s China’s World," 22 July 2019 For many, the book has come to symbolize how an ideal of multiplicity—of religion, of ethnicity, of culture—can survive, if only enough people care. David Degner, Smithsonian, "Two Tour Guides—One Israeli, One Palestinian—Offer a New Way to See the Holy Land," 9 July 2019 Yes, this is an ideal and often takes time to figure out, develop, or find. Steve Booren, The Denver Post, "Improving investor behavior: Strengthen your financial superpowers," 21 July 2019 But what these lower-income households are cooking may not actually live up to the ideal of a wholesome meal cooked from scratch. Christine Byrne, SELF, "Why 'Just Cook More' Isn't the Universal Solution to Healthy Eating," 20 July 2019

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

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First Known Use of ideal

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ideal

Adjective

Middle English ydeall, from Late Latin idealis, from Latin idea

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Statistics for ideal

Last Updated

13 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ideal

The first known use of ideal was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for ideal

ideal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ideal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: exactly right for a particular purpose, situation, or person

ideal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ideal (Entry 2 of 2)

: an idea or standard of perfection or excellence
: someone or something that is believed to be perfect : someone or something that you admire and want to imitate

ideal

adjective
ide·​al | \ ī-ˈdē-əl How to pronounce ideal (audio) \

Kids Definition of ideal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having no flaw : perfect ideal weather

Other Words from ideal

ideally adverb

ideal

noun

Kids Definition of ideal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence He couldn't live up to his own ideals.
2 : someone who deserves to be imitated or admired She considered the older woman her ideal.

ideal

adjective
ide·​al | \ ī-ˈdē(-ə)l How to pronounce ideal (audio) , ˈī-ˌ How to pronounce ideal (audio) \

Medical Definition of ideal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : existing as an archetypal idea
2a : existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only
b : relating to or constituting mental images, ideas, or conceptions

ideal

noun

Medical Definition of ideal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence self-criticism and the formation of ideals are…the essential manifestations of the superego— G. S. Blum

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More from Merriam-Webster on ideal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ideal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ideal

Spanish Central: Translation of ideal

Nglish: Translation of ideal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ideal for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ideal

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