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

Each piece has subtle intentional imperfections such as an irregular surface and slight variation, for a material that is perfectly imperfect. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "This Upcycled Industrial Kitchen Was Built Around A Hot Sauce Shelf," 8 Jan. 2019 The galleries’ organic concrete shells were built by hand, giving each a perfectly imperfect shape. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Otherworldly new museum is built into a sand dune," 17 Dec. 2018 The margin for error is minimal, and the star catcher injuring a knee carrying luggage is an inauspicious way to begin, but imperfect and improbable teams make the playoffs every year. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Life as a Royals fan, Choose Your Own Adventure style | The Kansas City Star," 6 Apr. 2018 The color is the result of mixing red concrete with pink terra cotta, which also gives the space a beautifully imperfect texture. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "French retirement home gets the millennial pink treatment," 21 Sep. 2018 An imperfect deal – far from the total denuclearization the president imagined – might have been (possibly still could be) achievable. Trudy Rubin,, "North Korea meeting canceled thanks to Trump team's bluster | Trudy Rubin," 24 May 2018 Even if the analysis is imperfect, the short- and medium-term outlook suggests Brexit is going to have a significant cost to the United Kingdom’s economy. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Brexit will hurt the UK’s economy no matter what — says the government’s own analysis," 29 Nov. 2018 Restaurant Review: Spanish flavors are bold (but imperfect) at this Louisville restaurant A handful of black tables and chairs are set in the back half of the space, unframed scenes from Vietnam hanging along the wall. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "Ngon Appetit keeps it simple with 3 items — soup, sandwiches, crepes," 11 July 2018 The incident shows that because humans are imperfect, their imperfections can get baked into the algorithms built in hopes of avoiding such problems. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Amazon Fired Its Resume-Reading AI for Sexism," 10 Oct. 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

21 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

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).


a complex dispute or argument

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