An ideal is a model of something perfect or without equal. As an adjective, ideal describes this ultimate standard for excellence, or something that exists only as an idea.

When we talk about what's ideal, we often refer to a best-case scenario (it would be ideal if you were well-rested before your exam); what we're striving for (it would be ideal for all children to receive an education); or some idea of perfection (the ideal date would be dinner with your favorite movie star). If you have high ideals, you have very strong beliefs about what is good and right, and maybe even how best to save the world.

Definitions of ideal

n the idea of something that is perfect; something that one hopes to attain

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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
control, control condition
a standard against which other conditions can be compared in a scientific experiment
(psychoanalysis) parental figures (and their values) that you introjected as a child; the voice of conscience is usually a parent's voice internalized
gold standard
a paragon of excellence
design criteria
criteria that designers should meet in designing some system or device
beaut, beauty
an outstanding example of its kind
pacemaker, pacesetter
a leading instance in its field
a model considered worthy of imitation
an impressive or wonderful example of a particular quality
a rule or standard especially of good behavior
Type of:
idea, thought
the content of cognition; the main thing you are thinking about

n model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal

apotheosis, nonesuch, nonpareil, nonsuch, paragon, saint
crackerjack, jimdandy, jimhickey
someone excellent of their kind
class act
someone who shows impressive and stylish excellence
someone of remarkable excellence
Type of:
model, role model
someone worthy of imitation

adj conforming to an ultimate standard of perfection or excellence; embodying an ideal

being complete of its kind and without defect or blemish

adj constituting or existing only in the form of an idea or mental image or conception

“a poem or essay may be typical of its period in idea or ideal content”
existing only in the mind; separated from embodiment

adj of or relating to the philosophical doctrine of the reality of ideas


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