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Idea Vs Ideal: What Are The Differences? When To Use Each

Idea Vs Ideal: What Are The Differences? When To Use Each

It is possible to find people using the words idea and ideal interchangeably. Yet, "idea" is not the conventional variant or synonym of the word ideal since the word idea is a noun while "ideal" is an adjective. But at times, you can use them colloquially as synonyms if you understand "idea vs ideal" in detail.

"Idea" means a concept or a formulated thought of opinion. The word idea applies when someone knows what to do; like when you have a light bulb moment. "Ideal" is a model of something perfect or something without an equal. It describes a standard or something that is honorable or worthy.

From the above, you can tell that the word "idea" applies in philosophical connotations and ordinary conversations, making it diverse. Ideal depicts an ultimate standard of excellence of something that only exists as an idea. Ready to learn more about these two words? We detail everything you should know in the sections below.

idea light bulb

Definitions Of Idea And Ideal

Though these words are confusing, you can learn more about their similarity and difference through their definitions. Remember, you cannot compare words if you do not know what they mean. Discussed below are the definitions of these words.

Definition Of Idea

"Idea" means the content of cognition, the main thing you are thinking about. It mainly describes a viewpoint, an opinion, or your intention. When someone says, "Picture this," they want to give you an idea.

This word dates back to "idein" and "eidos" in Greek, which means "to see" and "image." It is also related to the famous Greek Philosopher Plato's belief that perfect abstractions exist only in non-materials of perfect ideas or images. However, today, the word means a concept of thought.

Other Meanings Of The Word Idea

Though the word idea applies when someone is talking about their or another person's personal view, there are also other ways that you can use this word. For instance, an idea also means an approximate calculation of the quality of degree during an estimation. For example: Do you have an idea how long the trip will take?

"Idea" is also used in music. Here the meaning is a melodic subject of musical compositions. For example, in a sentence, "The coordinator picked up the idea and elaborated on it."

Definition Of Ideal

Ideal means something perfect or something a person hopes to attain. You can use the word ideal when discussing the best-case scenario of something. A good example is (It would be ideal if you completed all the preparations before the guests arrived.)

The origin of the word ideal is from the Latin word ideālis, which dates back to 1605-15. The word also has French roots used as idéal before the English language borrowed the word and used it as ideal.

Ideal also means constituting or existing only in the form of an idea, mental image, or conception. For example, "The story might be typical of its period in ideal content." Ideal also means regarded as perfect of its kind. This applies when discussing people, things, or situations. For example, "An ideal color theme for your wedding is mustard and gray."

Another interesting meaning of ideal is "existing solely in the imagination." That refers to someone or something that is not actual or real. For example, in a sentence, "It would be ideal to have a world where everyone flies like birds."

How To Properly Use Idea And Ideal In A Sentence

Unless accidental, it is hard to find people using the word idea when they mean idea. However, on the other hand, many speakers say or write ideal when they mean idea. Knowing how to use each word correctly makes it easy for your audience to know what you want to convey. Here is how you use the two words.

How To Use Idea

Though the word idea has some philosophical connotations, it can also be used in ordinary conversations when discussing a picture, notion, or impression of something on your mind.

You can also use the word as an opinion or belief. In this case, you can have an idea about something, on something, or something of that something. Use it also when you feel something is possible or true or when talking about the purpose of something.

The adjective form of the word idea is ideational, which means by means of or in terms of when you want to refer to ideas. Example in a sentence: Ideational factors play a significant role in decision-making. Ideational also means about the information or thought of objects and not immediately present to the senses. In a sentence: A structural ideational theory requires the satisfaction of all the critical beliefs to apply the concept correctly.

How To Use Ideal

As an adjective, use ideal when talking about something perfect or most suitable or something that exists only in your imagination or idea. You can also use it as a noun when talking about a person or thing that is a perfect example of a particular quality or type.

The adverb form of the word ideal is ideally, which means perfectly or in ideal circumstances. An example sentence: The results of this test should ideally reflect the desired outcomes.

Another adverb form of the word ideal is idealistically, which means in an idealistic manner. For example, in a sentence: James idealistically supported his father throughout the trial.

Examples Of Idea And Ideal Use In Sentences

Now that you have learned the meaning of these words, it is time to learn how to incorporate them into your sentences. Below are sentences with the terms idea and ideal. Take the time to practice them as you comprehend the various ways you can use these words.

Example sentences of idea

  1. It was a great idea to install the CCTV on the business premises
  2. Leon started the project with an ambitious idea.
  3. The client was great and easy to work with; he gave me an idea of what he expected from the project.
  4. The whole idea that I had came from Ivan.
  5. Alex asked if we had any idea on how we could solve the water problem.

Example sentences of ideal

  1. A Jeep is an ideal vehicle for Rodrigo.
  2. The weather is great and ideal for a picnic.
  3. Everybody agreed that Jackson was the ideal husband for her.
  4. I feel like Alfa is the ideal candidate for the job.
  5. Bela was the ideal model for the product; it is too bad she does not want to do it.

ideal word

What Is The Difference Between Idea And Ideal?

Idea and ideal are two words that have close spellings and pronunciations and might even be considered confusing words. However, these words are not the same. An idea is a mental notion, hypothesis, or belief. On the other hand, an ideal is something perfect. That means the best standards by which other things get measured.

An idea results from mental activity (thinking formed in the mind of recalled memory), unlike "ideal," which is a standard of beauty, intellect or excellence, and success. Note that unlike ideal, the word idea has a plural form, ideas.


Idea and ideal are closely related when it comes to spelling. But these words do not have the same meaning and definition. So, you should understand what each word means and the definition. When you do this, you will easily incorporate the words into your sentences. Learning how to use these words is vital so that you do not confuse them when you write or make a speech.