[ adjective, noun pur-fikt; verb per-fekt ]
See synonyms for: perfectperfectedperfectingperfectness on

  1. conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type: a perfect sphere;a perfect gentleman.

  2. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement: There is no perfect legal code.The proportions of this temple are almost perfect.

  1. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose: a perfect actor to play Mr. Micawber;a perfect saw for cutting out keyholes.

  2. entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings: a perfect apple;the perfect crime.

  3. accurate, exact, or correct in every detail: a perfect copy.

  4. thorough; complete; utter: perfect strangers.

  5. pure or unmixed: perfect yellow.

  6. unqualified; absolute: He has perfect control over his followers.

  7. expert; accomplished; proficient: She will need a perfect driving teacher.

  8. unmitigated; out-and-out; of an extreme degree: He made a perfect fool of himself.

  9. Botany.

  10. Grammar.

    • noting an action or state brought to a close prior to some temporal point of reference, in contrast to imperfect or incomplete action.

    • designating a tense or other verb formation or construction with such meaning.

  11. Music.

    • of or noting the consonances of unison, octave, and fifth, as distinguished from those of the third and sixth. : Compare imperfect (def. 6).

    • of or noting the intervals, harmonic or melodic, of an octave, fifth, and fourth in their normal form, as opposed to augmented and diminished.

  12. Mathematics. (of a set) equal to its set of accumulation points.

  13. Obsolete. assured or certain.

  1. the perfect tense.

  2. a verb form or construction in the perfect tense.: Compare future perfect, pluperfect, present perfect.

verb (used with object)
  1. to bring to completion; finish.

  2. to bring to perfection; make flawless or faultless: He has succeeded in perfecting his recipe for chicken Kiev.

  1. to bring nearer to perfection; improve; make better: She works hard to perfect her writing.

  2. to make fully skilled.

  3. Printing. to print the reverse of (a printed sheet).

Origin of perfect

First recorded in 1250–1300; from Latin perfectus, past participle of perficere “to finish, bring to completion” (per-per- + -fec-, combining form of facere “to make, do” (see do1) + -tus past participle suffix); replacing Middle English parfit, from Old French, from Latin as above

usage note For perfect

A few usage guides still object to the use of comparison words such as more, most, nearly, almost, and rather with perfect on the grounds that perfect describes an absolute, yes-or-no condition that cannot logically be said to exist in varying degrees. The English language has never agreed to this limitation. Since its earliest use in the 13th century, perfect has, like almost all adjectives, been compared, first in the now obsolete forms perfecter and perfectest, and more recently with more, most, and similar comparison words: the most perfect arrangement of color and line imaginable. Perfect is compared in most of its general senses in all varieties of speech and writing. After all, one of the objectives of the writers of the U.S. Constitution was “to form a more perfect union.” See also complete, unique.

Other words for perfect

Other words from perfect

  • per·fect·ed·ly, adverb
  • per·fect·er, noun
  • per·fect·ness, noun
  • non·per·fect·ed, adjective
  • quasi-perfect, adjective
  • qua·si-per·fect·ly, adverb
  • self-per·fect·ing, adjective
  • su·per·per·fect, adjective
  • su·per·per·fect·ly, adverb
  • un·per·fect, adjective
  • un·per·fect·ed, adjective

Words that may be confused with perfect Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use perfect in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for perfect


  1. having all essential elements

  2. unblemished; faultless: a perfect gemstone

  1. correct or precise: perfect timing

  2. utter or absolute: a perfect stranger

  3. excellent in all respects: a perfect day

  4. maths exactly divisible into equal integral or polynomial roots: 36 is a perfect square

  5. botany

    • (of flowers) having functional stamens and pistils

    • (of plants) having all parts present

  6. grammar denoting a tense of verbs used in describing an action that has been completed by the subject. In English this is a compound tense, formed with have or has plus the past participle

  7. music

    • of or relating to the intervals of the unison, fourth, fifth, and octave

    • Also: full, final (of a cadence) ending on the tonic chord, giving a feeling of conclusion: Compare imperfect (def. 6)

  8. archaic positive certain, or assured

  1. grammar

    • the perfect tense

    • a verb in this tense

verb(pəˈfɛkt) (tr)
  1. to make perfect; improve to one's satisfaction: he is in Paris to perfect his French

  2. to make fully accomplished

  1. printing to print the reverse side of (a printed sheet of paper)

Origin of perfect

C13: from Latin perfectus, from perficere to perform, from per through + facere to do

usage For perfect

For most of its meanings, the adjective perfect describes an absolute state, i.e. one that cannot be qualified; thus something is either perfect or not perfect, and cannot be more perfect or less perfect. However when perfect means excellent in all respects, a comparative can be used with it without absurdity: the next day the weather was even more perfect

Derived forms of perfect

  • perfectness, 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