im·​per·​fect | \(ˌ)im-ˈpər-fikt \

Definition of imperfect 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not perfect: such as

a : defective

b of a flower : having stamens or pistils but not both

c : lacking or not involving sexual reproduction the imperfect stage of a fungus

2 : of, relating to, or constituting a verb tense used to designate a continuing state or an incomplete action especially in the past

3 : not enforceable at law



Definition of imperfect (Entry 2 of 2)

: an imperfect tense also : the verb form expressing it

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Other Words from imperfect


imperfectly \ (ˌ)im-​ˈpər-​fik(t)-​lē \ adverb
imperfectness \ (ˌ)im-​ˈpər-​fik(t)-​nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for imperfect

Synonyms: Adjective

amiss, bad, defective, faulty, flawed

Antonyms: Adjective

faultless, flawless, impeccable, perfect

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Examples of imperfect in a Sentence


It's an imperfect solution to a difficult problem. He had an imperfect understanding of the task. In “He was singing when I came in,” “was singing” is in the imperfect tense.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

One of the great things about social media is how people are able to share experiences and put their messy, imperfect truth out there—posting about everything from mental health issues to grief to the reality of stretch marks and cellulite. Anthea Levi,, "5 Social Media Influencers Get Real About How Therapy Is the Best Self Care," 14 May 2018 The challenges of helping kids in terrible situations with an imperfect system still remain. Adiel Kaplan, miamiherald, "She struck down gay adoption ban and handled notorious juvenile cases. Now she's retiring.," 3 July 2018 Mariner generally targets people who have imperfect credit scores, according to the bond rating agencies. Peter Whoriskey,, "Unsolicited checks can be a lifeline and an albatross," 2 July 2018 How can experts sift through data that may yield imperfect results? Melinda Laituri, Scientific American, "Should We Always Trust What We See in Satellite Images?," 4 June 2018 People make imperfect, and often just bad, decisions. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, "Going for Broke, the Middle Class Goes Broke," 27 June 2018 The son, Lon Rith, is now based in Philadelphia but returns to Cambodia sporadically to run in elections, although his command of the language is imperfect. Julia Wallace, New York Times, "‘Fireflies’ and ‘Ghosts’ in Cambodia Prop Up Facade of Real Election," 11 July 2018 And that’s annoying, because humans are deeply imperfect. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "A Cruise-on-Cruise Crash Reveals the Hardest Thing About Self-Driving Tech," 3 July 2018 One of the studies to show just how imperfect BMI is on a large scale was published in 2008 in JAMA Internal Medicine, in which researchers found that BMI didn’t always correlate with other measures of health. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "The Science on Weight and Health," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Performances had been stuttering, results imperfect: At Santiago Bernabéu, the 85,000-seat stadium where Real Madrid plays its matches, one loss and three draws in 11 league games does not cut it. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Real Madrid Wins Easily in Zidane’s Debut as Coach JAN. 9, 2016," 2 Dec. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imperfect.' 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 imperfect


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1871, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for imperfect


alteration of Middle English imparfit, from Latin imperfectus, from in- + perfectus perfect

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Statistics for imperfect

Last Updated

28 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for imperfect

The first known use of imperfect was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for imperfect



English Language Learners Definition of imperfect

: having mistakes or problems : not perfect

grammar : of or relating to a verb tense used to express an incomplete action in the past or a state that continued for a period of time in the past


im·​per·​fect | \im-ˈpər-fikt \

Kids Definition of imperfect

: having a fault of some kind : not perfect

Other Words from imperfect

imperfectly adverb



Legal Definition of imperfect 

: not perfect or complete: as

a : not enforceable : enforceable only under certain conditions an imperfect obligation

b : lacking an element otherwise required by law — compare perfect

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Comments on imperfect

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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