When you suddenly know what to do and a cartoon light bulb appears above your head, you've probably just had an idea. After burning the roast and dropping the mashed potatoes, ordering pizza seemed like your best idea all night.

Idea goes all the way back to idein in Greek, meaning “to see.” When someone says “Picture this!” they want to give you an idea. When you try to imagine something, idea can also mean a rough outline or a general sense: "This drawing I've made doesn't show every detail of my time machine, but it will give you some idea of how it works."

Primary Meanings of idea

the content of cognition; the main thing you are thinking about
(music) melodic subject of a musical composition
Full Definitions of idea

n the content of cognition; the main thing you are thinking about

“it was not a good idea
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arousal of the mind to special unusual activity or creativity
a carefully considered thought about something
concept, conception, construct
an abstract or general idea inferred or derived from specific instances
an idea that preoccupies the mind and holds the attention
an incorrect conception
plan, program, programme
a series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished
a contrived or fantastic idea
generalisation, generality, generalization
an idea or conclusion having general application
an idea that is suggested
belief, feeling, impression, notion, opinion
a vague idea in which some confidence is placed
an idea evoked by some experience
an idea accepted as a demonstrable truth
notion, whim, whimsey, whimsy
an odd or fanciful or capricious idea
meaning, substance
the idea that is intended
the central idea that is expanded in a document or discourse
motif, theme
a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary or artistic work
the idea of something that is perfect; something that one hopes to attain
idealisation, idealization
something that exists only as an idea
a fundamental or central idea
an eccentric idea
fixation, obsession
an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone
an emotional preoccupation
a topic to which one constantly reverts
germ, seed, source
anything that provides inspiration for later work
a condition that is the inspiration for an activity or situation
a strong creative impulse; divine inspiration
conceptualisation, conceptuality, conceptualization
an elaborated concept
a general inclusive concept
preoccupation with yourself to the exclusion of everything else
a general concept that marks divisions or coordinations in a conceptual scheme
regulation, rule
a principle or condition that customarily governs behavior
attribute, dimension, property
a construct whereby objects or individuals can be distinguished
abstract, abstraction
a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance
the concept that something has a magnitude and can be represented in mathematical expressions by a constant or a variable
division, part, section
one of the portions into which something is regarded as divided and which together constitute a whole
all of something including all its component elements or parts
law, natural law
a rule or body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature and essential to or binding upon human society
law, law of nature
a generalization that describes recurring facts or events in nature
lexicalized concept
a concept that is expressed by a word (in some particular language)
hypothesis, possibility, theory
a tentative insight into the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena
a concept whose truth can be proved
audit program, audit programme
a listing of audit procedures to be performed in completing an audit
outline, schema, scheme
a schematic or preliminary plan
fallacy, false belief
a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning
erroneous belief, error
a misconception resulting from incorrect information
self-deceit, self-deception
a misconception that is favorable to the person who holds it
misapprehension, mistake, misunderstanding
an understanding of something that is not correct
fancy, fantasy, illusion, phantasy
something many people believe that is false
delusion, hallucination
a mistaken or unfounded opinion or idea
master plan
a long-term outline of a project or government function
blueprint, design, pattern
something intended as a guide for making something else
plan of action
a plan for actively doing something
regime, regimen
(medicine) a systematic plan for therapy (often including diet)
project, projection
a planned undertaking
agenda, docket, schedule
a temporally organized plan for matters to be attended to
pension account, pension plan, retirement account, retirement plan, retirement program, retirement savings account, retirement savings plan
a plan for setting aside money to be spent after retirement
employee savings plan
a plan that allows employees to contribute to an investment pool managed the employer
guideline, road map
a detailed plan or explanation to guide you in setting standards or determining a course of action
stock purchase plan
an organized plan for employees of a company to buy shares of its stock
principle, rule
a basic generalization that is accepted as true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning or conduct
glimmer, glimmering, inkling, intimation
a slight suggestion or vague understanding
posthypnotic suggestion
a suggestion that is made to a person who is hypnotized that specifies an action he will perform (usually in response to a cue) after he has awakened
the impression that something is present
an impression (especially one that is artificial or contrived)
first blush
at the first glimpse or impression
Bayes' theorem
(statistics) a theorem describing how the conditional probability of a set of possible causes for a given observed event can be computed from knowledge of the probability of each cause and the conditional probability of the outcome of each cause
hunch, intuition, suspicion
an impression that something might be the case
a traditional theme or motif or literary convention
the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text
implication, import, significance
a meaning that is not expressly stated but can be inferred
strain, tenor
the general meaning or substance of an utterance
undercurrent, undertone
a subdued emotional quality underlying an utterance; implicit meaning
denotation, extension, reference
the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression; the class of objects that an expression refers to
the relation between a word or phrase and the object or idea it refers to
an idea that is implied or suggested
an ideal accepted by some individual or group
beau ideal, idol, paragon, perfection
an ideal instance; a perfect embodiment of a concept
criterion, standard
the ideal in terms of which something can be judged
example, exemplar, good example, model
something to be imitated
ego ideal
(psychoanalysis) the part of the ego that contains an ideal of personal excellence toward which a person strives
something illusory and unattainable
a misconception that is fallacious and not true or valid
linguistic rule, rule
(linguistics) a rule describing (or prescribing) a linguistic practice
a summary of intended expenditures along with proposals for how to meet them
Type of:
cognitive content, content, mental object
the sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned

n a personal view

“he has an idea that we don't like him”
Type of:
opinion, persuasion, sentiment, thought, view
a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty

n your intention; what you intend to do

“the idea of the game is to capture all the pieces”
Type of:
aim, design, intent, intention, purpose
an anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides your planned actions

n an approximate calculation of quantity or degree or worth

“a rough idea how long it would take”
approximation, estimate, estimation
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estimation of the amount of lumber in a log
credit, credit rating
an estimate, based on previous dealings, of a person's or an organization's ability to fulfill their financial commitments
dead reckoning, guess, guessing, guesswork, shot
an estimate based on little or no information
guesstimate, guestimate
an estimate that combines reasoning with guessing
overestimate, overestimation, overrating, overreckoning
a calculation that results in an estimate that is too high
underestimate, underestimation, underrating, underreckoning
an estimation that is too low; an estimate that is less than the true or actual value
Type of:
calculation, computation, figuring, reckoning
problem solving that involves numbers or quantities

n (music) melodic subject of a musical composition

“the accompanist picked up the idea and elaborated it”
melodic theme, musical theme, theme
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motif, motive
a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music
(music) the presentation of a musical theme
a repetition of a musical theme in which it is modified or embellished
obbligato, obligato
a persistent but subordinate motif
(counterpoint) a variation of a melody or part in which ascending intervals are replaced by descending intervals and vice versa
the statement of a theme in notes of greater duration (usually twice the length of the original)
the statement of a theme in notes of lesser duration (usually half the length of the original)
one of the variations contained in a partita
Type of:
air, line, melodic line, melodic phrase, melody, strain, tune
a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence

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