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 Shone said the Casbah, with its outdoor patio, is ideal for the Author & Punisher audience experience. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 May 2022 This black bottle contains is ideal for teenage guys who are after a fruitier scent. The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 May 2022 The kit is also ideal for round-table meetings with colleagues when in the office. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 18 May 2022 This 3-foot round grill mat is ideal for smaller charcoal barbecues and smokers with legs that span 32 inches or less. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 18 May 2022 Plus, our experts noticed that this model offers good pressure relief that's ideal for both lightweight body types and side sleepers. Grace Wu, Good Housekeeping, 18 May 2022 Losing a challenging game to the arch-nemesis in the throws of a season-ending losing streak wasn’t ideal for Schmedding or head coach Bryan Harsin. Nubyjas Wilborn |, al, 17 May 2022 Even better, the place is located along 327 feet of no-bank shoreline on Lake Washington, the second-largest natural freshwater lake in the state, and is ideal for boating excursions. Emma Reynolds, Robb Report, 16 May 2022 The riding mower is compact and is ideal for up to 2 acres of land. Better Homes & Gardens, 16 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Epicureans saw this pursuit as their highest ideal, but so did all their libertine descendants. Isabel B. Slone, Town & Country, 2 May 2022 Watson said his ideal would be permanent standard time but that changing the clock every spring and fall would still be better than year-round daylight saving time. NBC News, 16 Mar. 2022 Jefferson Mays as the blustery mayor and Jayne Houdyshell as his imperious wife get all the humor out of their roles without diluting the way their ideal of civic culture is just another kind of con. New York Times, 10 Feb. 2022 If more prosecutors thought like this, perhaps our criminal legal system would live up to its ideal of equal justice under law. Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2022 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 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

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ideal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 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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