Definition of ideal in US English:



  • 1Satisfying one's conception of what is perfect; most suitable.

    ‘the swimming pool is ideal for a quick dip’
    ‘this is an ideal opportunity to save money’
    • ‘Otherwise, the concept was ideal for providing theatre experience for young actors.’
    • ‘These organizations can make you aware of internship opportunities, which are ideal for giving you experience and exposure into the industry.’
    • ‘Korea's location is ideal for foreign businessmen seeking market opportunities in the Asia Pacific region.’
    • ‘The classic alien-spacecraft shape turned out to be ideal for an airship developed to photograph hard-to-reach corners of big buildings.’
    • ‘Gun positions that are ideal for range and coverage might not be suitable because of intervening features and masking fire.’
    • ‘Such a system would be ideal for any school as children too would be saved the embarrassment of being singled out for resource room training.’
    • ‘And while the calm waters were not ideal for sailing, they were perfect for cruising.’
    • ‘The black and white colour combination is classic but ideal for the younger lady for it is the colour to be seen in this, and every other, season.’
    • ‘Both major political parties have already aired the concept of vouchers, and diagnostics would be ideal for a pilot.’
    • ‘Light and easy to wear, this beachwear classic is ideal for perfecting that all-over-tan.’
    • ‘Ninety-two percent of women said dependability is a desirable characteristic in an ideal mate.’
    • ‘The completed homes would be ideal for first time buyers and those interested in investing in a weekend retreat.’
    • ‘This model proved to be ideal for those who have to scan multi-page text documents, magazine illustrations for the Web, and standard photographs.’
    • ‘This 14 oz steak, complete with mussels, squid and the like, is ideal for those who can't decide.’
    • ‘From past experience, the ideal candidate is likely a college student or recent college grad.’
    • ‘The concept appears ideal for the wide variety of actions that an expeditionary US military force may face in the twenty-first century.’
    • ‘Only 2,000 crossblade models have been built and it comes with a completely waterproof interior, ideal for the normal British summer.’
    • ‘No doubt a pole would be absolutely ideal for crucians and possibly give even better presentation.’
    • ‘I was 18 years old at the time I met Rick, and my petite frame seemed ideal for modeling.’
    • ‘As a director you want to put on great plays to attract great actors and Mr Pinter is absolutely ideal for that.’
    perfect, best possible, consummate, supreme, absolute, complete, copybook, flawless, faultless, without fault, exemplary, classic, archetypal, model, ultimate, quintessential
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  • 2attributive Existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality.

    ‘in an ideal world, we might have made a different decision’
    • ‘Therein lies the gap between ideal principle and business reality.’
    • ‘Even in its most radical form, the politics of representation always presupposes an abstract or ideal state that would act as guarantor of its chosen representations.’
    • ‘In your ideal fantasy world there will be people dancing around in circles, holding hands with daisy chains in their hair.’
    • ‘For a poet content to dwell in the gap between an inner and outer reality and between ideal and real worlds, nostalgia for the past must not monopolize one's identity.’
    • ‘This is where we need to come out from the ideal world and talk reality.’
    • ‘Those stories, I never enjoyed them as much as she presumed - it was too ideal to be a reality.’
    • ‘In an ideal world we can fantasise about replicating the idyllic childhoods of the past, but the horrible truth is that we can no longer afford that fantasy.’
    • ‘The sentimental and emotional atmosphere captivated them and induced them to seek in death an ideal dream world, transcending reality.’
    • ‘Mathematics concerns mental activity, not some ideal realm of independently existing entities.’
    • ‘It's a place of friendship, an ideal city of the imagination.’
    • ‘In reality, this ideal comparison group does not exist.’
    • ‘Jen is an essential element of Confucianism and represents an ideal state in which an individual maintains harmonious social relationships with his fellow men.’
    unattainable, unachievable, impracticable, unworkable, unfeasible
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    1. 2.1 Representing an abstract or hypothetical optimum.
      ‘mathematical modeling can determine theoretically ideal conditions’
      • ‘India, we are told, has ideal conditions for manufacturing and selling small urban electric vehicles, unlike most developed countries.’
      • ‘The Tweed is once again producing prodigious numbers of fish, thanks in no small measure to frequent rises in river level over the last few months providing often ideal conditions.’
      • ‘The competition was played in ideal conditions and a play off will be required to decide the winner.’
      • ‘Purina has just completed a study and found that dogs that are kept lean or at their ideal body condition live longer lives with less health issues than those that are overweight.’
      • ‘The annual Cemetery Mass was held in Naomh Moibhi Cemetery in less than ideal conditions on August 11 th at 11 a.m.’
      • ‘That represents an ideal start to the Gunners' campaign.’
      • ‘That race over an extended three miles and one furlong on a sharp course hardly represented ideal conditions for Running Moss, who will be much better suited tomorrow.’
      • ‘IN ideal weather conditions, St Abban's Athletic Club played host to the Laois Community Games County athletic finals recently.’
      • ‘These four conditions represent an ideal scenario in which all gains from trade are found and captured by people looking for opportunities to trade.’
      • ‘This was an ideal and rare opportunity to see a traditional canvas currach in use and the Indian summer weather ensured ideal conditions for oarsmen and onlookers.’
      • ‘In front of a good attendance at this fine facility, conditions were ideal and the pitch and markings and the beautiful spring morning added to the occasion for everyone.’
      • ‘That's what you'd get, under ideal conditions, at about 200 feet from the transmitting antenna of a signal that's legal under Part 15.’
      • ‘Woodstown Harriers hold their annual Hunter Trials in Portlaw on Sunday last in ideal conditions and it was a most enjoyable an successful day with the events run off very smoothly.’
      • ‘Of course, he is well aware 10 furlongs is Fantastic Light's ideal distance and that's an obvious plus.’
      • ‘Connell said children should not be allowed outside on days such as Wednesday, because anything less than ideal conditions could affect their health.’
      • ‘We have simulated how often under ideal circumstances this is likely to happen.’
      • ‘Quite simply: we cannot claim that we are a strong people and insist at the same time that none but a handful of us can be expected to thrive under anything but ideal conditions.’
      • ‘Weather conditions were ideal and crowds of people lined the streets to watch the various floats on parade and enjoy the singing, dancing and entertainment.’
      • ‘The pavement managing system to identify pavement conditions is an index of 10, with 10 representing an ideal road surface.’
      • ‘With the high tides matching early and late fishing times it was ideal conditions for anglers to try out for the prizes up for grabs in the Greenback Fishing Comp at Cabarita over the long weekend.’
      abstract, theoretical, conceptual, notional, intellectual, metaphysical, philosophical, academic
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  • 1A person or thing regarded as perfect.

    ‘you're my ideal of how a man should be’
    • ‘Gagarin was pushed by the Soviets as the epitome of the Communist ideal.’
    • ‘Everyone thought of him as the perfect ideal of the American citizen.’
    • ‘In the mind's ear, one has an ideal of the perfect performance of a piece.’
    • ‘Gisele Bundchen took to the catwalks and glossy perfection once more became the ideal.’
    perfection, paragon, epitome, ne plus ultra, beau idéal, nonpareil, crème de la crème, the last word, the ultimate, a dream
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    1. 1.1 A standard of perfection; a principle to be aimed at.
      ‘tolerance and freedom, the liberal ideals’
      • ‘Although it is based on the parables of Jesus, it lays down principles and ideals for living that are relevant to all faiths.’
      • ‘It must be remembered that as a profession, we have the highest ideals and standards to uphold.’
      • ‘These are no longer simply liberal ideals; they are essential weapons in the war on neo-terror.’
      • ‘Affordable housing is an ideal rather than a reality.’
      • ‘Equality between the sexes is an ideal, not a reality.’
      • ‘Ms Toynbee works on that fantastic assumption underlying the ideal of universal education, that everyone can be and wants to be and therefore should be educated.’
      • ‘Sure, the ideal would be perfect control of documents as they get passed around and changed.’
      • ‘This dogma was part of the reaction against the ideals and principles of the Russian Revolution.’
      • ‘Mere arguments about ‘sustainable use’ may be more of a utopian ideal than a possible reality.’
      • ‘Otherwise, collective security remained more an ideal than a reality as the twentieth century ended.’
      • ‘We more readily fight for something we own than over a high-minded ideal.’
      • ‘The democratic principle in this form expresses an ideal of citizenship rather than a standard of liberal legitimacy.’
      • ‘The world's women are on the forefront of making this ideal a reality.’
      • ‘By adding project extranet capabilities to the core CAD applications, the company has helped make that ideal a working reality for many firms.’
      • ‘Yet they all fought for the same sort of ideals and principles as those in the International Brigades.’
      • ‘Democrats like to blather interminably about democracy, which presumably represents their ideal.’
      • ‘Or perhaps the nuclear family has always been more of an ideal than a reality.’
      • ‘Freedom of the press from state interference should be a cherished ideal in a constitutional republic.’
      • ‘Or do we do a little of both, going back and forth, and back again, from moral intuition to principled ideal?’
      • ‘The ideal of universal education dies hard, but Labour has done its best to bury it.’
      model, pattern, exemplar, example, paradigm, archetype, prototype, criterion, yardstick
      principle, standard, rule of living, moral value, belief, conviction, persuasion
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Late Middle English (as a term in Platonic philosophy, in the sense ‘existing as an archetype’): from late Latin idealis, from Latin idea (see idea).