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

While an imperfect measure, this is as good a rule of thumb as any. Tim Culpan,, "Your iPhone is already made in America," 12 June 2019 The use of trash cans for human waste was an imperfect system, and several days into the shelter period, the atmosphere was often oppressive. Nan Randall, The Atlantic, "'Charlottesville': A Government-Commissioned Story About Nuclear War," 25 Jan. 2018 Many banks try and combat this problem by flagging suspicious transactions, but this is an imperfect system that can miss real fraud and accidentally catch legitimate use. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "This Credit Card Has a Screen So Its Security Code Can Change Every Hour," 3 Oct. 2016 Be aware that Mercury will be retrograde next month, so be gentle with yourself, even if things are imperfect. Randon Rosenbohm, Allure, "What June's Scorpio Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 29 May 2019 Her approach to motherhood—and frank portrayal of it on Instagram—is perfectly imperfect. Glamour, "Chrissy Teigen on Diapers, Parenthood, and How She Silences Mommy Shamers," 30 Apr. 2019 And the ability to be seen to be frail, vulnerable and imperfect with it. CNN, "How Diego Maradona redefined football in the space of less than five minutes," 11 June 2018 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

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

24 Jun 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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