im·​per·​fect | \ (ˌ)im-ˈpər-fikt How to pronounce imperfect (audio) \

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

Other Words from imperfect


imperfectly \ (ˌ)im-​ˈpər-​fik(t)-​lē How to pronounce imperfect (audio) \ adverb
imperfectness \ (ˌ)im-​ˈpər-​fik(t)-​nəs How to pronounce imperfect (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for imperfect

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of imperfect in a Sentence

Adjective 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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This unpredictability and imperfect reality is the true context that the eating and exercise plans have to survive within among us unhabiters. Quora, Forbes, 13 May 2022 Approximate Value metric, an imperfect but useful measure of a player’s contribution to a team’s success. New York Times, 28 Apr. 2022 The missing calls underscore something more endemic: the imperfect and antiquated system of tracking a president’s communications. Ryan Nobles, CNN, 31 Mar. 2022 Cut a square or rectangular patch rather than an irregular shape attempting to match the dimensions and size of an imperfect hole. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, 2 May 2022 And needing to do all of this with imperfect and incomplete information was and still is, hard. Corrinne Hess, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 29 Apr. 2022 Several Facebook-group administrators and members described to me the conundrum of relying on an imperfect platform to create strong, and for many people invaluable, communities. Mansee Khurana, The Atlantic, 28 Apr. 2022 Her hair is pulled back into an imperfect ponytail and her eyes are brushed with dark shadow. Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2022 In the case of Spell on You, my imperfect nose, only recently liberated from chronic allergies, catches a hint of Haribo peach that softens into a moody rose—practically begging for a hotel bathrobe. Genevieve Fullan, Longreads, 12 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Musically, the album is an imperfect yet revealing mosaic of Cabello’s Cuban-Mexican heritage–of growing up on cumbia, salsa, and mariachi, while embracing modern pop and experimental sounds. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 7 Apr. 2022 Her own transition experience convinced her that testosterone requirements are a necessary, if imperfect, way to preserve fair competition in elite women’s sports. New York Times, 16 Feb. 2022 The National Coalition for the Homeless tracks violent hate crimes against homeless people using media reports and information from homeless advocates and service providers, an imperfect system that doesn’t capture all the incidents. NBC News, 28 Jan. 2022 And second, its finding that harm is likely to result from these tools runs counter to the prevailing assumption that, even if imperfect, using such algorithms to inform risk is better than nothing. Katie Palmer, STAT, 9 Apr. 2022 For those who argue that Google and Facebook algorithms are blunt, deeply flawed instruments for policing discourse, Rumble offers a welcome alternative, albeit an imperfect one. New York Times, 28 Mar. 2022 Some might be recycled, but recycling is an imperfect option — recyclable items still end up in landfills. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, 15 Mar. 2022 But after the war ended in 1945, the victorious powers established a system of international organizations and laws that, while imperfect, have tended to clamp down on the most naked forms of aggression. Politifact Staff, Detroit Free Press, 2 Mar. 2022 This explanation means the public health response to the pandemic, though obviously imperfect, was not about spiritual poverty or political radicalism. Addison Del Mastro, The Week, 7 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of imperfect


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1569, 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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Time Traveler for imperfect

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near imperfect



imperfect cadence

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Statistics for imperfect

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Imperfect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for imperfect


im·​per·​fect | \ im-ˈpər-fikt How to pronounce imperfect (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on imperfect

Nglish: Translation of imperfect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imperfect for Arabic Speakers


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