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 Cut yourself some slack and remember that being human means being imperfect. Jelena Kecmanovic, Quartz, "Rules for resolutions: 7 ways to make commitments you’ll keep," 31 Dec. 2019 But, however imperfect the home warranty coverage may be, one thing is certain: without it the homeowner gets to pay for 100% of all repairs, 100% of the time., "Sound Off: Do you advise buyers to get a home warranty? Should they renew it every year? What are the pros and cons?," 20 Dec. 2019 Cut yourself some slack and remember that being human means being imperfect. Jelena Kecmanovic, The Conversation, "7 science-based strategies to boost your willpower and succeed with your New Year’s resolutions," 17 Dec. 2019 Ms Dudley Edwards identified The Economist’s creed as the belief that governments are more imperfect than markets. The Economist, "Has The Economist made history, as well as reporting it?," 14 Nov. 2019 Their relationships knit together to achieve something bigger than themselves, important to our democracy, yet imperfect in its origins. Cathey M. Finlon, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Our foremothers taught us an important lesson: Speak up, show up, shape history," 8 Oct. 2019 Money is a poor proxy for public-spiritedness, just as age is an imperfect one for passion. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "What a Biden-Trump Presidential Race Might Look Like," 16 June 2019 To the contrary, scarce or expensive capital helps filter out bad ideas and improve imperfect ones. Amar Bhidé, WSJ, "Stock-Market Volatility Can Be Good for the Economy," 24 Dec. 2018 The American promise is an imperfect one, of course, and rings hollow to individuals and groups who have found themselves with little or no ability to build wealth or savings. Felix Salmon, WIRED, "The Stock Market Loophole That Screws the Little Guy," 25 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


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

17 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Imperfect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 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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