idea

noun
\ ī-ˈdē-ə How to pronounce idea (audio) , -ˈdēə also ˈī-(ˌ)dē-ə or ˈī-dē \

Essential Meaning of idea

1 : a thought, plan, or suggestion about what to do My idea is to study law. Starting her own business seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turned out badly. See More ExamplesI left with the idea that I'd come back later. = I left with the idea of coming back later. Whose idea was it to leave so early? My idea was that if we left early we could beat the crowd. Buying the car was a bad idea. I have some ideas for redecorating the room. He has an idea for a movie. I'm not sure what to do next. Do you have any ideas? She's always full of new ideas. It's a good idea to talk to people who have actually been there. There's/that's an idea! = There's/that's a good idea! What's the next big idea in the fashion industry? Tom has the right idea —while the rest of us are fighting traffic every day, he takes the train to work.Hide
2 : an opinion or belief That guy has some pretty strange ideas. "I thought he'd help us." "What gave you that idea?" See More ExamplesWhere did you get that idea? I thought we could handle this ourselves, but my boss had other ideas. [=my boss did not agree]Hide
3 : something that you imagine or picture in your mind I formed a good idea of what the place is like by reading about it. A hamburger and a milkshake isn't exactly my idea of a gourmet meal! [=it is not what I imagine a gourmet meal to be] See More ExamplesA quiet night at home is my idea of a good time. Could you give us some idea of what to expect?Hide

Full Definition of idea

1 : a formulated thought or opinion
2 : whatever is known or supposed about something a child's idea of time
3 : the central meaning or chief end of a particular action or situation
4a : a plan for action : design
b : a standard of perfection : ideal
c : a transcendent entity that is a real pattern of which existing things are imperfect representations
5a : an entity (such as a thought, concept, sensation, or image) actually or potentially present to consciousness
b : an indefinite or unformed conception
c obsolete : an image recalled by memory
6 Christian Science : an image in Mind
7 archaic : a visible representation of a conception : a replica of a pattern

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Other Words from idea

idealess \ ī-​ˈdē-​ə-​ləs How to pronounce idea (audio) , -​ˈdēə-​ also  ˈī-​(ˌ)dē-​ə-​ or  ˈī-​dē-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for idea

idea, concept, conception, thought, notion, impression mean what exists in the mind as a representation (as of something comprehended) or as a formulation (as of a plan). idea may apply to a mental image or formulation of something seen or known or imagined, to a pure abstraction, or to something assumed or vaguely sensed. innovative ideas my idea of paradise concept may apply to the idea formed by consideration of instances of a species or genus or, more broadly, to any idea of what a thing ought to be. a society with no concept of private property conception is often interchangeable with concept; it may stress the process of imagining or formulating rather than the result. our changing conception of what constitutes art thought is likely to suggest the result of reflecting, reasoning, or meditating rather than of imagining. commit your thoughts to paper notion suggests an idea not much resolved by analysis or reflection and may suggest the capricious or accidental. you have the oddest notions impression applies to an idea or notion resulting immediately from some stimulation of the senses. the first impression is of soaring height

Examples of idea in a Sentence

My idea is to study law. Starting her own business seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turned out badly. Whose idea was it to leave so early? My idea was that if we left early we could beat the crowd. Buying the car was a bad idea. I have some ideas for redecorating the room. He has an idea for a movie. I'm not sure what to do next. Do you have any ideas? She's always full of new ideas. It's a good idea to talk to people who have actually been there.
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Recent Examples on the Web So your idea of where the characters are going to end changes each year. Naledi Ushe, PEOPLE.com, 8 Oct. 2021 Any idea when the polls come out for the beginning of the season. oregonlive, 8 Oct. 2021 The idea for Lola, initially envisioned as a travel assistance app geared primarily for leisure travelers, emerged there. BostonGlobe.com, 8 Oct. 2021 In fact, the time away only allowed Segarra and Watson to level up their idea into what is now a massive digital platform that includes its own website and major social media followings that celebrate the Latin American experience in all its glory. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 7 Oct. 2021 Just the idea of blocking that scene gave me a headache. Jen Chaney, Vulture, 6 Oct. 2021 And the idea that this time Senate Democrats are seriously considering getting rid of the filibuster. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 6 Oct. 2021 The basic idea: Use evidence and reason to do the absolute most good possible. Steven Ehrlich, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 Or the infamous dismissing your idea and then passing it off as their own. Minda Harts, NBC News, 5 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'idea.' 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 idea

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4c

History and Etymology for idea

Middle English, from Latin, from Greek, from idein to see — more at wit

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Time Traveler for idea

Time Traveler

The first known use of idea was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near idea

-ide

idea

ideaed

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Statistics for idea

Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Idea.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idea. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for idea

idea

noun
\ ī-ˈdē-ə How to pronounce idea (audio) \

Kids Definition of idea

1 : a thought or plan about what to do Surprising her was a bad idea.
2 : something imagined or pictured in the mind I had an idea of what the town was like.
3 : an understanding of something I have no idea what you mean.
4 : a central meaning or purpose The idea of the game is to keep from getting caught.
5 : an opinion or belief What gave you that idea?

idea

noun
\ ī-ˈdē-ə How to pronounce idea (audio) , ˈīd-(ˌ)ē-ə How to pronounce idea (audio) \

Medical Definition of idea

1 : an entity (as a thought, concept, sensation, or image) actually or potentially present to consciousness
2 : a formulated thought or opinion

More from Merriam-Webster on idea

Nglish: Translation of idea for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of idea for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about idea

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