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

Definition of imperfect

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not perfect: such as
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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Those telecasts provided additional clarity about the form award shows will take in the near future -- a passable if imperfect solution to the logistics of the coronavirus pandemic, with obvious drawbacks but some notable strengths. Brian Lowry, CNN, "BET and Daytime Emmys preview at-home awards shows to come," 29 June 2020 But traditional resources, such as web reviews, personal recommendations, and media directories, are imperfect solutions. Mohammed Saeed, Quartz, "Why AI is the next way patients will choose their doctors," 26 June 2020 For now, the NBA remains all systems go on making the best of an imperfect situation. Jeff Mcdonald,, "Amid COVID outbreak in Florida, Spurs have games to play," 26 June 2020 Justice, as the last few weeks of nationwide protests have reminded us, is imperfect and aspirational. Joyce White Vance, Time, "Americans Need to Know the Truth About William Barr's Friday Night Massacre. We Can't Afford to Wait," 22 June 2020 And this, in the face of imperfect COVID-19 tests, is key to interpreting a negative result. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "How a Negative COVID-19 Test Can Mislead," 21 June 2020 The story of these Vietnam vets is among Lee's best in juggling humor, anger, and characters wrestling their own imperfect demons. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods is a hard watch, but an easy Netflix recommendation," 19 June 2020 This metric is imperfect because multiple tests can be performed on one person, but each case can only be counted once, which could result in lower case-to-test ratios. Ramsey Archibald |, al, "Black Belt hit hard as coronavirus cases surge in rural Alabama," 19 June 2020 The hammered finish gives these tins a nicely imperfect look, but there’s more to this set than aesthetics—they’re super practical! Tessa Bahoosh, USA TODAY, "14 Target-worthy pieces of farmhouse decor you can get from Home Depot," 19 June 2020 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


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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Statistics for imperfect

Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Imperfect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for imperfect


How to pronounce imperfect (audio)

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

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