[ ahy-dee-uhl, ahy-deel ]
See synonyms for: idealideals on

  1. a conception of something in its perfection.

  2. a standard of perfection or excellence.

  1. a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation: Thomas Jefferson was his ideal.

  2. an ultimate object or aim of endeavor, especially one of high or noble character: He refuses to compromise any of his ideals.

  3. something that exists only in the imagination: To achieve the ideal is almost hopeless.

  4. Mathematics. a subring of a ring, any element of which when multiplied by any element of the ring results in an element of the subring.

  1. conceived as constituting a standard of perfection or excellence: ideal beauty.

  2. regarded as perfect of its kind: an ideal spot for a home.

  1. existing only in the imagination; not real or actual: Nature is real; beauty is ideal.

  2. advantageous; excellent; best: It would be ideal if she could accompany us as she knows the way.

  3. based upon an ideal or ideals: the ideal theory of numbers.

  4. Philosophy.

    • pertaining to a possible state of affairs considered as highly desirable.

    • pertaining to or of the nature of idealism.

Origin of ideal

From the Late Latin word ideālis, dating back to 1605–15. See idea, -al1

synonym study For ideal

1, 2. Ideal, example, model refer to something considered as a standard to strive toward or something considered worthy of imitation. An ideal is a concept or standard of perfection, existing merely as an image in the mind, or based upon a person or upon conduct: We admire the high ideals of a religious person. Sir Philip Sidney was considered the ideal in gentlemanly conduct. An example is a person or the conduct or achievements of a person regarded as worthy of being followed or imitated in a general way; or sometimes, as properly to be avoided: an example of courage; a bad example to one's children. A model is primarily a physical shape to be closely copied, but is also a pattern for exact imitation in conduct or character: They took their leader as a model.

Other words for ideal

Other words from ideal

  • i·de·al·ness, noun
  • qua·si-i·de·al, adjective
  • qua·si-i·de·al·ly, adverb
  • sub·i·de·al, adjective, noun
  • su·per·i·de·al, adjective, noun
  • su·per·i·de·al·ly, adverb
  • un·i·de·al, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ideal in a sentence

  • In practice one party seems about as bad as the other, but at least the Democratic ideals more nearly correspond with my own.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • God knows, all that we have now are a bitter disappointment to those of us with any of the old ideals left.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • Mrs. Wheaton, for all her petty airs and evil-scenting profile, was really a woman of high ideals.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • A stream never rises above its source, nor a home above the ideals of its founders.

  • The poems inspired by the love of the ancient ideals and literature of Provence are very beautiful.

    Frdric Mistral | Charles Alfred Downer

British Dictionary definitions for ideal


/ (aɪˈdɪəl) /

  1. a conception of something that is perfect, esp that which one seeks to attain

  2. a person or thing considered to represent perfection: he's her ideal

  1. something existing only as an idea

  2. a pattern or model, esp of ethical behaviour

  1. conforming to an ideal

  2. of, involving, or existing in the form of an idea

  1. philosophy

    • of or relating to a highly desirable and possible state of affairs

    • of or relating to idealism

Derived forms of ideal

  • ideality (ˌaɪdɪˈælɪtɪ), noun
  • ideally, adverb
  • idealness, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012