Definition of ideal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ʌɪˈdɪəl/
Pronunciation: /ʌɪˈdiːəl/


1Satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable: the swimming pool is ideal for a quick dip this is an ideal opportunity to save money
More example sentences
  • Light and easy to wear, this beachwear classic is ideal for perfecting that all-over-tan.
  • These organizations can make you aware of internship opportunities, which are ideal for giving you experience and exposure into the industry.
  • Otherwise, the concept was ideal for providing theatre experience for young actors.
perfect, best possible, consummate, supreme, absolute, complete, copybook, flawless, faultless, without fault, exemplary, classic, archetypal, model, ultimate, quintessential
2 [attributive] Existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality: in an ideal world, we might have made a different decision
More example sentences
  • In reality, this ideal comparison group does not exist.
  • Those stories, I never enjoyed them as much as she presumed - it was too ideal to be a reality.
  • Mathematics concerns mental activity, not some ideal realm of independently existing entities.
unattainable, unachievable, impracticable, unworkable, unfeasible;
unreal, fictitious, hypothetical, theoretical, ivory-towered, imaginary, idealized, utopian, romantic, quixotic, visionary, fanciful, fairy-tale
2.1Representing an abstract or hypothetical optimum: mathematical modelling can determine theoretically ideal conditions
More example sentences
  • That race over an extended three miles and one furlong on a sharp course hardly represented ideal conditions for Running Moss, who will be much better suited tomorrow.
  • These four conditions represent an ideal scenario in which all gains from trade are found and captured by people looking for opportunities to trade.
  • The pavement managing system to identify pavement conditions is an index of 10, with 10 representing an ideal road surface.
abstract, theoretical, conceptual, notional, intellectual, metaphysical, philosophical, academic;
hypothetical, speculative, conjectural, conjectured, suppositional, putative
rare suppositious, suppositive, ideational


1A person or thing regarded as perfect: you’re my ideal of how a man should be
More example sentences
  • Everyone thought of him as the perfect ideal of the American citizen.
  • In the mind's ear, one has an ideal of the perfect performance of a piece.
  • Gagarin was pushed by the Soviets as the epitome of the Communist ideal.
perfection, paragon, epitome, ne plus ultra, beau idéal, nonpareil, crème de la crème, the last word, the ultimate, a dream
informal one in a million, the tops, the best/greatest thing since sliced bread, the bee's knees
archaic a nonesuch
1.1A standard or principle to be aimed at: tolerance and freedom, the liberal ideals
More example sentences
  • Or do we do a little of both, going back and forth, and back again, from moral intuition to principled ideal?
  • Although it is based on the parables of Jesus, it lays down principles and ideals for living that are relevant to all faiths.
  • Yet they all fought for the same sort of ideals and principles as those in the International Brigades.
model, pattern, exemplar, example, paradigm, archetype, prototype, criterion, yardstick
principle, standard, rule of living, moral value, belief, conviction, persuasion;
(ideals) morals, morality, ethics, code of behaviour, code of honour, ideology, creed;
integrity, uprightness, high-mindedness, righteousness, virtue, probity, rectitude, sense of honour, honour, decency, conscience, sense of duty, scruples


Late Middle English (as a term in Platonic philosophy, in the sense 'existing as an archetype'): from late Latin idealis, from Latin idea (see idea).

Words that rhyme with ideal

beau idéal, real, surreal

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ideal

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