See more synonyms for imperfect on
  1. of, relating to, or characterized by defects or weaknesses: imperfect vision.
  2. not perfect; lacking completeness: imperfect knowledge.
  3. Grammar. noting action or state still in process at some temporal point of reference, particularly in the past.
  4. Law. being without legal effect or support; unenforceable.
  5. Botany. (of a flower) diclinous.
  6. Music. of or relating to the interval of a major or minor third or sixth.Compare perfect(def 13a).
noun Grammar.
  1. the imperfect tense.
  2. another verb formation or construction with imperfect meaning.
  3. a form in the imperfect, as Latin portābam, “I was carrying.”

Origin of imperfect

1300–50; < Latin imperfectus unfinished (see im-2, perfect); replacing Middle English imparfit < Middle French imparfait < Latin, as above
Related formsim·per·fect·ly, adverbim·per·fect·ness, noun

Synonyms for imperfect

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Antonyms for imperfect

2. complete, developed. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for imperfect

Contemporary Examples of imperfect

Historical Examples of imperfect

  • Yet how imperfect a glimpse do we obtain of him, through the medium of this, or any of his letters!

    A Book of Autographs

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • The best of us are imperfect judges of the happiness of others.

  • Well, well, they shall be as imperfect as you like—any thing to please you.

  • In proportion as the union is incomplete, the derived life is imperfect.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • The teaching may have been, as no doubt it was, of a very rude and imperfect sort; but it was done with a will.


    Samuel Smiles

British Dictionary definitions for imperfect


  1. exhibiting or characterized by faults, mistakes, etc; defective
  2. not complete or finished; deficient
  3. botany
    1. (of flowers) lacking functional stamens or pistils
    2. (of fungi) not undergoing sexual reproduction
  4. grammar denoting a tense of verbs used most commonly in describing continuous or repeated past actions or events, as for example was walking as opposed to walked
  5. law (of a trust, an obligation, etc) lacking some necessary formality to make effective or binding; incomplete; legally unenforceableSee also executory (def. 1)
  6. music
    1. (of a cadence) proceeding to the dominant from the tonic, subdominant, or any chord other than the dominant
    2. of or relating to all intervals other than the fourth, fifth, and octaveCompare perfect (def. 9)
  1. grammar
    1. the imperfect tense
    2. a verb in this tense
Derived Formsimperfectly, adverbimperfectness, 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

Word Origin and History for imperfect

mid-14c., imperfite, from Old French imparfait, from Latin imperfectus "unfinished, incomplete," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + perfectus (see perfect). Replaced mid-16c. by the Latin form. Related: Imperfectly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper