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(4)
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



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

Other Words from ideal


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

Choose the Right Synonym for ideal


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 My Neighbor Totoro encouraged me to embrace my imagination, curiosity, and creativity, and showed me an ideal world free of conflict and full of kindness and love. Goldie Chan, Forbes, 3 May 2022 In an ideal world, the house would sell to a deep-pocketed buyer, who would then open the villa as a museum, with an apartment for Rita to live in on a higher floor. James Mcauley, Town & Country, 27 Apr. 2022 In an ideal world, the high-value man or woman is subjective. Eve Upton-clark,, 21 Apr. 2022 In Adam Gase’s ideal world, a hypothetical universe where everything aligned for him perfectly before the 2018 season, the Miami Dolphins would have found a way to get atop that draft to select Baker Mayfield. Omar Kelly, Sun Sentinel, 20 Apr. 2022 In an ideal world, researchers would be able to return benefits to the community without involving nonacademic external parties. Brenna Henn, The Conversation, 19 Apr. 2022 In my ideal world, vaccination against Covid-19 would be required before boarding a commercial airline, and mask mandates would remain in place. Jill Filipovic, CNN, 19 Apr. 2022 In an ideal world, there would be new, multipurpose spaces combining interactive installations, retro games, escape rooms, A.R. games, bars, and makerspaces. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2022 That leaves McCaskey as Poles’ direct supervisor, the point person to oversee the growth and development of the 36-year-old first-time general manager and to — in an ideal world anyway — offer valuable direction and guidance when appropriate. Dan Wiederer,, 4 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And while this has always been regarded as the ideal during warmer months, sun exposure can wreak havoc on one’s crowning glory. Bianca Salonga, Forbes, 24 Apr. 2022 There’s nothing wrong with being any of those things, but neither is there anything inherently right about lucking into the phenotype long advanced as the ideal of female beauty. Vogue, 22 Feb. 2022 By presenting homosexuals or transgender women as a threat to women and children—and, by extension, to men’s ability to protect them—fascist politics impugns the liberal ideal of freedom. Parker Molloy, Rolling Stone, 25 Apr. 2022 Such a spike would be far from ideal for the Warriors, who are poised to stare down a 2023-24 payroll — luxury tax included — in the $500 million range. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 Apr. 2022 The reappraisal and celebration of Willis' career elevates the need for access to Moonlighting from ideal to absolutely essential. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 8 Apr. 2022 Despite the clear momentum shift at the end of the game’s first 20 minutes, the middle period was far from ideal for the Americans. NBC News, 16 Feb. 2022 The timing is far from ideal for Johnson, whose Tories face an election for a parliamentary seat southeast of London on Thursday. Stuart Biggs,, 28 Nov. 2021 This homey atmosphere charmed guests, but the dynamic became far from ideal as the family expanded and the pace of service picked up. Lydia Kiesling, Bon Appétit, 17 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of ideal


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ideal


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

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Time Traveler for ideal

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near ideal



ideal engine

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Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ideal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ideal


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



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.


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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on ideal

Nglish: Translation of ideal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ideal for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ideal


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