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

An 18-by-14-foot living room, 13-by-16-foot dining room and 13-by-12-foot kitchen flow together in one space that is ideal for daily living and entertaining. Tony Bacewicz, courant.com, "West River Farms, East Windsor," 28 June 2018 The standings weren’t ideal, but the Royals had won 7 of 11 games. Maria Torres, kansascity, "'Opposite of what we drew up': Soler's fractured foot is the Royals' latest bad break," 16 June 2018 The timing isn't ideal, no, as the Marlins celebrate their 25th Anniversary Weekend following another offseason fire sale that has the club unsurprisingly in the midst of a start-over season wrought by lousy crowds and on pace to top 100 losses. Greg Cote, miamiherald, "Marlins' 25th Anniversary Weekend underlines Derek Jeter's obligation to heal deep wounds," 9 June 2018 That’s not ideal for NASA, and not just because the agency won’t get to use its own rocket. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "If SLS Won't Launch NASA's Moon Mission, What Will?," 14 Mar. 2019 Winning my lawsuit would be ideal, but making the difference and making the change and not keeping my mouth shut [is my goal]. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Trump Accuser Alva Johnson Speaks About Being Believed, Standing Her Ground, and Her Lawsuit," 11 Mar. 2019 What companies need to do is diversify their definition of an ideal candidate. Diya Khanna, The Seattle Times, "Would you hire me if you were blindfolded?," 20 Nov. 2018 At least have a bake sale and donate proceeds to your ideal political candidate. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "What Your Zodiac Sign Says About How You Should Prep for The 2018 Midterms," 11 Oct. 2018 Attendees can meet the minds behind programs such as Avrio AI, which selects ideal candidates for jobs, over food, drinks, and networking. Allison Hagan, BostonGlobe.com, "Business agenda," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

None of these come close to the 120Hz VR enthusiasts used to throw around as the ideal—but Index does. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Valve's $999 Index VR headset promises 'high-fidelity virtual reality' with revolutionary controls," 30 Apr. 2019 Tolentino takes the former Governor Mike Huckabee’s boys as the platonic ideal of Sons. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Toward a taxonomy of men online," 14 Aug. 2018 The Room-Service Breakfast Sandwich Public, Chicago The Platonic ideal of a breakfast sandwich executed just right by Jean-Georges Vongerichten: an egg sammy with bacon, spinach, and pepper Jack. The Editors Of Gq, GQ, "How to Cure a Hangover: A Drinker’s Guide to Surviving the Morning After," 29 June 2018 For the #MeToo ideal of creeps not prospering to become a reality will, queasily, require corporate America to act as a major moral—and by proxy, yes, cultural—arbiter. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Went Wrong With Spotify’s ‘Hateful Conduct’ Policy?," 5 June 2018 Champeaux and Porte use extensive extracts from this ancient audio record, including Mandela's stirring and rightly famous set-piece speech about being prepared to die for the noble ideals of racial equality. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The State Against Mandela and the Others': Film Review | Cannes 2018," 14 May 2018 Real or not, Delevingne joins a fierce lineup of women who've similarly challenged the limiting beauty ideals women have faced since, well, always—but is also embodying the growing toss-the-razor movement. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "In Her Smell, Cara Delevingne Makes the Case for Armpit Hair," 19 Apr. 2019 On a crowded flight, that noise can make situations less-than-ideal, and quieter cabins have only exacerbated the issue. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Using Physics To Build a Quieter Airplane Toilet," 5 Apr. 2019 Their ideal is to accept about 100 participants to keep class sizes small. Reema Amin, baltimoresun.com, "Anne Arundel summer dance program conveys confidence as well as technique," 11 July 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

21 May 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

to mark by some ceremony or observation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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!