Definition of idea in English:

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Pronunciation: /īˈdēə/


1A thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action: they don’t think it’s a very good idea
More example sentences
  • The Trust is also on the look out for new members to put forward suggestions and ideas for future projects.
  • None of this is to suggest that the driver retraining course is a bad idea or a soft option.
  • Many of the audience have pledged to do far more than just one of the ideas suggested in the programme.
plan, scheme, design, proposal, proposition, suggestion, action point, brainchild, vision;
aim, intention, purpose, objective, object, goal, target
meaning, significance, sense, import, essence, gist, drift;
point, aim, intention, purport, implication;
design, motive
1.1A concept or mental impression: our menu list will give you some idea of how interesting a low-fat diet can be
More example sentences
  • He probably had the best idea of what was going on of anyone in this room, besides me, that is.
  • Women probably have a better idea of the male world and male values than men do of women's.
  • Many of us perhaps have little idea what it must be like to be in the depths of despair.
concept, notion, conception, thought;
image, visualization;
hypothesis, postulation
sense, feeling, suspicion, inkling, hunch, clue, theory, notion, impression
dated fancy
estimate, estimation, approximation, guess, conjecture, rough calculation
informal guesstimate
1.2An opinion or belief: nineteenth-century ideas about drinking
More example sentences
  • No other institution enjoys such sweeping powers to suppress the expression of opinions and ideas.
  • Instead we must turn to what is intelligible: the values, beliefs and ideas revealed by art.
  • In my opinion, these ideas and ideals are slipping fast, and we need to fight for them.
thought, theory, view, opinion, feeling, belief, attitude, conclusion
informal take
2 (the idea) The aim or purpose: I took a job with the idea of getting some money together
More example sentences
  • It involves listening to the other side, not with the idea of debate but for the purpose of learning.
  • Perhaps the idea of us meeting up again was not the purpose of our encounter.
  • Allan has other ideas, of course, and a bid for one or other of his rivals now looks certain.
3 Philosophy (In Platonic thought) an eternally existing pattern of which individual things in any class are imperfect copies.
Example sentences
  • For example, the "Form" or "Idea" of a horse is intelligible, abstract, and applies to all horses.
  • The idea "cat" is simply pure "catness" which exists and moves about the world of Ideas.
3.1(In Kantian thought) a concept of pure reason, not empirically based in experience.
Example sentences
  • In contrast, Kant calls the concepts of pure reason 'transcendental ideas.'
  • Kant nonetheless takes the ideas of God, the soul, and the world to have a valid philosophical use as “regulative,” i.e., for guiding the direction of inquiry to be all the more encompassing in scope.



get (or give someone) ideas

informal Become (or make someone) ambitious, bigheaded, or tempted to do something against someone else’s will, especially make a sexual advance: Mac began to get ideas about turning pro
More example sentences
  • Media violence just adds to the problem and gives them ideas about how to express their anger.
  • In fact, this line of argument should stop here, in case it gives them ideas.
  • I don't want to give them ideas, but I'm looking forward to the derby.

have (got) no idea

informal Not know at all: she had no idea where she was going
More example sentences
  • Where that idea came from she had no idea but then, she always was a bit of a dreamer.
  • All this time, Marlow was becoming fascinated with the idea of Kurtz - having no idea what to expect, he still felt a certain loyalty to the man.
  • Perhaps one of the most notable changes was this, my foray into the blogosphere, something I began in the belief that I likely wouldn't continue for long and having no idea of the friends I would make all over the world.

not someone's idea of

informal Not what someone regards as: it’s not my idea of a happy ending
More example sentences
  • Maybe I'm not your idea of what a Republican should be, but then again, you're not my idea of what a decent human being should be.
  • I am sure you are absolutely right about that, but your technique for cross-examining witnesses in the family court is not my idea of how it should be done.
  • That is not my idea of what constitutes an affordable afternoon.

put ideas into someone's head

Suggest ambitions or thoughts that a person would not otherwise have had.
Example sentences
  • This morning, I read several more chapters of Black Fiddle which put ideas into my head.
  • You shouldn't say such things to the children, putting ideas into their head!
  • This would happen if God were actively putting ideas into my head that, prima facie and in all cases, seemed to have some other source.

that's an idea

informal That suggestion or proposal is worth considering.
Example sentences
  • Hey, that's an idea - an extension that strips all the images from Xeni's posts.
  • Now that's an idea - I'll email NASA straight away!
  • The insight that you could design small, medium, and large cups so that they all use the same size lid - that's an idea.

that's the idea

informal Used to confirm to someone that they have understood something or they are doing something correctly: “A sort of bodyguard?” “That’s the idea.”
More example sentences
  • You'll try something, he'll say, ‘Yes, that's the idea, but maybe I want your arms to go up.’
  • Well, that's the idea, but so far it hasn't worked out that way for The Donnas.
  • Yep, that's the idea, he is searching for the myth that guides his life.

the very idea!

informal An exclamation of disapproval or disagreement.
Example sentences
  • She was subtly moving the debate on, from jokey repartee (the very idea!) to smiling yet intransigent persistence.
  • The very idea! What an outrage!


Late Middle English (sense 3): via Latin from Greek idea 'form, pattern', from the base of idein 'to see'.

Words that rhyme with idea

adhere, Agadir, Anglosphere, appear, arrear, auctioneer, austere, balladeer, bandolier, Bashkir, beer, besmear, bier, blear, bombardier, brigadier, buccaneer, cameleer, career, cashier, cavalier, chandelier, charioteer, cheer, chevalier, chiffonier, clavier, clear, Coetzee, cohere, commandeer, conventioneer, Cordelier, corsetière, Crimea, dear, deer, diarrhoea (US diarrhea), domineer, Dorothea, drear, ear, electioneer, emir, endear, engineer, fear, fleer, Freer, fusilier, gadgeteer, Galatea, gazetteer, gear, gondolier, gonorrhoea (US gonorrhea), Greer, grenadier, hand-rear, hear, here, Hosea, interfere, Izmir, jeer, Judaea, Kashmir, Keir, kir, Korea, Lear, leer, Maria, marketeer, Medea, Meir, Melilla, mere, Mia, Mir, mishear, mountaineer, muleteer, musketeer, mutineer, near, orienteer, pamphleteer, panacea, paneer, peer, persevere, pier, Pierre, pioneer, pistoleer, privateer, profiteer, puppeteer, racketeer, ratafia, rear, revere, rhea, rocketeer, Sapir, scrutineer, sear, seer, sere, severe, Shamir, shear, sheer, sincere, smear, sneer, sonneteer, souvenir, spear, sphere, steer, stere, summiteer, Tangier, tear, tier, Trier, Tyr, veer, veneer, Vere, Vermeer, vizier, volunteer, Wear, weir, we're, year, Zaïre

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: i·de·a

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