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i·de·al (ī-dēəl, ī-dēl)
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n.
1. A conception of something in its absolute perfection: the ideal of national unity.
2. One that is regarded as a standard or model of perfection or excellence: The restaurant is considered the ideal in fine dining.
3. An ultimate or worthy object of endeavor; a goal: "those who regarded even a rhetorical commitment to the ideal of disarmament as irresponsibly utopian" (James Carroll).
adj.
1. Conforming to a standard of perfection or excellence; perfect or highly satisfactory: an ideal work environment.
2.
a. Existing only in the mind; imaginary: an ideal world where everything works out fine.
b. Lacking practicality or the possibility of realization: an ideal notion of how businesses are run.
3. Philosophy
a. Existing as an archetype or pattern, especially as a Platonic idea or perception: the ideal forms.
b. Of or relating to idealism.

[From Middle English, pertaining to the divine archetypes of things, from Late Latin ideālis, from Latin idea, idea; see IDEA.]

Synonyms: ideal, exemplar, model, standard, pattern
These nouns refer to someone or something worthy of imitation or duplication. An ideal represents a sometimes unattainable level of perfection: "Comic book heroes played a major part in shaping my boyhood ideal of manliness" (Theodore Roszak).
An exemplar, like a model, serves as a worthy example by being the best or most admirable of its class: "He is indeed the perfect exemplar of all nobleness" (Jane Porter)."Our fellow countryman is a model of a man" (Charles Dickens).
A standard is a basis of comparison or judgment: "Alexander's conquests created a legend that would provide the standard by which other leaders measured their careers" (Eugene N. Borza).
A pattern is an example worthy of imitation by reason of being an original or essential form of something: "I will be the pattern of all patience" (Shakespeare).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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