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

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Other Words from imperfect


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

Free and whipping through the warm breeze, consider Paltrow's perfectly imperfect strands a 2019 resolution to leave the blowdryer at home. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Gwyneth Paltrow’s Honeymoon Hair Is the Best Thing You'll See Today," 3 Jan. 2019 Now, what’s true is that even though our immigration laws are quite strict and the practical consequences of breaking them are quite real, enforcement is nonetheless imperfect. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The pernicious myth of “open borders”," 22 June 2018 But even with some of the best engineering minds at NASA, calculating risk is an imperfect science. Christian Davenportrimmed,, "NASA advisers say SpaceX rocket technology could put lives at risk," 6 May 2018 That guesswork, combined with the imperfect science of actually making flu shots, leaves some room for error. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "The Nasal Flu Vaccine Is Set to Come Back Next Year. Here's What to Know About It," 22 Feb. 2018 In Shevek, Le Guin creates a thoughtful, imperfect, and inquisitive guide to the two worlds and their textured citizens. Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 In modern strains, it has been reduced to an imperfect, nonfunctional copy called a pseudogene, thanks to a stop codon in the middle of its sequence. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Ancient DNA reveals the secrets of a devastating European disease," 26 Sep. 2018 When Ashley Graham Had a Family Group Chat About Her Bush The Rise of Acne Positivity More women embraced their breakouts in 2018, including Kendall Jenner, who hit the Golden Globes red carpet with perfectly imperfect skin. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "24 Social Media Moments That Literally Made 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 Meanwhile, Shayk mimicked Maxwell's perfectly-imperfect hairstyle, though her chestnut strands were thrown up in an effortless topknot, piece-y bangs falling to each side. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Irina Shayk and Stella Maxwell Do Holiday BFF Beauty Like True Supermodels," 13 Dec. 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

15 Apr 2019

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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 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

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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).


an enemy or opponent

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