1
a
: of, relating to, or embodying an ideal
ideal beauty
b
: conforming exactly to an ideal, law, or standard : perfect
an ideal gas
compare real sense 1c(4)
2
a
: existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only
broadly : lacking practicality
b
: relating to or constituting mental images, ideas, or conceptions
3
: of or relating to philosophical idealism
4
: existing as an archetypal idea

ideal

2 of 2

noun

1
: a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence
2
: one regarded as exemplifying an ideal and often taken as a model for imitation
3
: an ultimate object or aim of endeavor : goal
4
: a subset of a mathematical ring that is closed under addition and subtraction and contains the products of any given element of the subset with each element of the ring
idealless adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for ideal

model, example, pattern, exemplar, ideal mean someone or something set before one for guidance or imitation.

model applies to something taken or proposed as worthy of imitation.

a decor that is a model of good taste

example applies to a person to be imitated or in some contexts on no account to be imitated but to be regarded as a warning.

children tend to follow the example of their parents

pattern suggests a clear and detailed archetype or prototype.

American industry set a pattern for others to follow

exemplar suggests either a faultless example to be emulated or a perfect typification.

cited Joan of Arc as the exemplar of courage

ideal implies the best possible exemplification either in reality or in conception.

never found a job that matched his ideal

Example Sentences

Adjective It was an ideal spot for a vacation. She is an ideal candidate for the job. The conference provided us with an ideal opportunity to meet new people. Noun an ideal of romantic love He hasn't lived up to his high ideals. She considers the actress her ideal. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
That is, if the conditions are ideal even several hours away. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 30 Jan. 2023 With six different nude shades, this bralette from SKIMS is ideal to stay invisible under clothes. Emma Seymour, Good Housekeeping, 30 Jan. 2023 Hawley said carbohydrate-rich and fatty foods are not ideal for late-night meals and opting for protein is better. Laura Hensley, Verywell Health, 30 Jan. 2023 Favorite comfort foods, like chicken soup or chocolate chip cookies, are ideal. Sarah Bahari, Dallas News, 30 Jan. 2023 On a visit to his in-laws in Arizona, Harrison was browsing in a bookstore and came across a book about moving to Costa Rica, where the cost of living is lower than in the U.S. and the weather is ideal. Kathleen Wong, USA TODAY, 29 Jan. 2023 The open-toe style is ideal for people who need extra grip support on top of the non-slip sole. Michelle Pugle, Health, 27 Jan. 2023 The timing is ideal given our fixation with TikTok's Vanilla Girl aesthetic. Fiona Embleton, Glamour, 26 Jan. 2023 Yet those antibiotics can lead to subsequent infections and affect the gut microbiome, neither of which are ideal. Esha Chhabra, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2023
Noun
In contrast to Daemon’s much more chaotic employment of the female gaze, Harwin is an example of the platonic ideal of a heroic partner. Jennifer Maas, Variety, 20 Dec. 2022 These are the platonic ideal of comfy winter leggings. Meaghan Kenny, Condé Nast Traveler, 19 Dec. 2022 The new owners, Eric Finkelstein and Matt Ross, seem to have understood that the Platonic ideal of the space transcends any individual item of décor. Pete Wells, New York Times, 6 Dec. 2022 In conclusion and in summary, Tim Calhoun is nearly the platonic ideal of a Forte character, lacking only the crucial interactions with the outside world that put our No. 1 character at the top. Jesse Hassenger, Vulture, 21 Jan. 2022 This petite wooden storage bench has easy-breezy appeal, ideal for small entryways. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 5 Jan. 2023 The stemless glass flutes offer a roomy interior ideal for serving prosecco, spritz cocktails, and layered desserts. Maria Conti, Better Homes & Gardens, 5 Jan. 2023 Black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans make it just as filling, and the addition of beets give it a deep red color ideal for the romantic holiday. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 21 Dec. 2022 Maunde offers two different blends of substances, each ideal for men or women, in contrast to other medicines and gummies on our market that offer the same recipe for both sexes. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 20 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ideal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English ydeall, from Late Latin idealis, from Latin idea

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ideal was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near ideal

Cite this Entry

“Ideal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ideal. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

ideal

1 of 2 adjective
ide·​al ī-ˈdē(-ə)l How to pronounce ideal (audio)
ˈī-ˌdē(-ə)l
1
: existing only in the mind : not real
a purely ideal conception of society
2
: having no flaw : perfect
ideal weather

ideal

2 of 2 noun
1
: a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence
2
: a perfect type : a model for imitation

Medical Definition

ideal

1 of 2 adjective
1
: existing as an archetypal idea
2
a
: existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only
b
: relating to or constituting mental images, ideas, or conceptions

ideal

2 of 2 noun
: a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence
self-criticism and the formation of ideals are … the essential manifestations of the superegoG. S. Blum

More from Merriam-Webster on ideal

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