Definition of ideal in English:

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Pronunciation: /īˈdē(ə)l/


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, excellent, flawless, faultless, exemplary, classic, model, ultimate, quintessential, picture-perfect
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, chimerical;
unreal, fictitious, hypothetical, theoretical, ivory-towered, imaginary, illusory, idealized, idyllic, visionary, utopian, fairy-tale
2.1Representing an abstract or hypothetical optimum: mathematical modeling 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;
hypothetical, speculative, conjectural, suppositional


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, shining example, ne plus ultra, nonpareil, dream
1.1A standard of perfection; a 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, standard, example, paradigm, archetype, prototype;
yardstick, lodestar
principle, standard, value, belief, conviction, persuasion;
(ideals) morals, morality, ethics, ideology, creed


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

Syllabification: i·de·al

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