What is your idea of an ideal meal? The words idea and ideal can be confusing because of their identical root word. Learn the difference between ideal and idea in this guide. I’ll show you their definitions and examples of how to use them in a sentence.
Idea vs. Ideal
Idea is a noun, while ideal is both a noun and an adjective. Both words are associated with thought or imagination.
This image shows an Ngram of idea and ideal. As you can see, idea is more commonly used than ideal.
Idea is a noun that refers to a thought meant to be a possible course of action. Some synonyms include plan, design, scheme, proposal, and proposition.
This noun form of idea can also mean purpose or aim.
The third definition of idea is an existing pattern where individual things in any group are imperfect copies. This definition is used in a philosophical sense, specifically using Kantian thought.
Here are some examples of idea in a sentence.
- The idea of flying makes me nauseous.
- This new product idea is going to make us millions.
- It is called The Law of Attraction — the belief that the best (and perhaps only) way to convince people to embrace a new idea is to heighten the appeal of the idea itself. (Ted Conferences)
- Almost any business will make money, but a business can’t survive, thrive or grow unless it has profits. Will your business idea turn a profit? How much? How fast? If you can’t answer those questions, are you sure this is the right business for you? (Entrepreneur)
The most common definition of ideal is satisfying one’s belief of what is perfect. This adjective may also mean perfect or consummate. Some associate this adjective with something imaginary. Here are some examples of ideal in a sentence.
- What’s your ideal person? Mine is someone who enjoys the same life values.
- “If everything is right and all those pieces to the puzzle are right and everything kind of makes up the perfect ideal situation for me, that’s what I want,” she said. (Motorsport)
- Lewis Hamilton may be poised to extend his F1 career a little longer, but Mercedes will still need to start planning for life without him. So which driver is the ideal replacement? (Crash)
- In May 2016, seven months after being jettisoned by Liverpool, Rodgers was the ideal man to reboot Celtic after the stagnation overseen by Ronny Deila. (The Guardian)
Ideal can also be a noun that refers to a person regarded as perfect. For example:
- Linda is our ideal of how a student should be.
- This man is my ideal when it comes to relationships.
Idea vs. Ideal Summary
My guide has hopefully shown you the difference between idea vs. ideal. You also learned how to use idea and ideal in a sentence. Remember:
- Idea is a noun that refers to a thought meant to be a possible course of action.
- Ideal is an adjective that means most suitable or perfect. It can also be a noun that refers to someone regarded as perfect.
Check out some others we covered: