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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Skin prepped using the @intraceuticals_official #antioxidantbooster #oxygenfacial For someone who is prepping for a major even like the Oscars, when is the ideal time to get a facial? Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "What Does a Pre-Oscars Facial Really Entail?," 23 Feb. 2019 Many focus on the early stages of the disease, so that is the ideal time to start expressing interest in participating. Korin Miller, SELF, "Are There Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease to Watch For?," 28 Nov. 2018 An open date on the big league schedule in May seemed the ideal time to change that. Howard Cole, latimes.com, "Take me out to a Quakes game on a weekend escape to Rancho Cucamonga," 12 July 2018 For those skipping town, the ideal times to leave were either early this morning (July 3rd), or late this evening. Southern Living, "Google Knows the Best Time to Beat Traffic This Fourth of July," 3 July 2018 This is perhaps an ideal time for the strongest heat of summer, as many of you will be taking some time off. Dave Epstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Some of the hottest weather of the summer is nearly upon us," 29 June 2018 The ideal time to visit is during the summer months, when peak snowmelt takes place. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian, "North America’s Most Spectacular Waterfalls," 18 June 2018 Eliminating a few steps in the process would be ideal for everyone's sanity—and would simultaneously tack on a few more minutes of valuable sleep time. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "These Top Sheets Snap to Your Duvet, So You Never Get Tangled Up in Bed Again," 22 Feb. 2019 Featuring a pearl headpiece, matching necklaces, and belt, the dramatic blush pink and black gown was ideal for striking many FASHUN poses down the entire red carpet—which Cardi of course did. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Cardi B Showed Up to the Grammys in an Oyster Shell," 11 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Duchess of Cambridge is, in many ways, the epitome of the royal ideal. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Was Reportedly Very Hurt by Queen Elizabeth's Early Criticisms of Her Lifestyle," 9 Feb. 2019 That ideal has been fractured into a million pieces and scattered beyond all recognition. Joelle Monique, Teen Vogue, ""If Beale Street Could Talk" Highlights the Power of Love in a World Designed for Black People to Fail," 9 Jan. 2019 The same ideals were known to and shared by our founding fathers. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Jim Baker's Eulogy for His Close Friend, George H.W. Bush," 6 Dec. 2018 Even before that, though, hashtags like #ImNoAngel, #WeAreAlltheFantasy, #WeAreAllAngels, and #BeautyBeyondSize have emerged to challenge the narrow beauty and body ideals promoted by the show's casting. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Body-Positive Influencers Respond to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show With Their Own Lingerie Photos," 3 Dec. 2018 Building a brand that speaks to a changing market Design often plateaus once the platonic ideal of a product becomes established—like mobile phones have all become slight variations on slim glass rectangles. Diana Budds, Curbed, "The rise of the direct-to-consumer home," 21 Dec. 2018 The two ideals of liberal democracy are liberty and equality. Sean Illing, Vox, "A Yale philosopher on fascism, truth, and Donald Trump.," 15 Dec. 2018 First came Jalakara in 2016, the platonic ideal of the chic jungle hideaway, on the crown of a hill in the island’s rugged interior and thoughtfully accessorized with items procured by the British owners during their adventures all over India. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 2018 These are issues that have existed since the nation’s founding, including the central conflict between the ideology of white supremacy and the ideal of democracy. Bree Newsome, SELF, "The 2018 Midterm Elections Proved That Change Must Happen from the Ground Up," 15 Nov. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ideal

Statistics for ideal

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ideal

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on ideal

What made you want to look up ideal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a shady place in a garden or forest

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!