What does idea mean?

Definitions for idea
aɪˈdi ə, aɪˈdiəidea

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word idea.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. idea, thoughtnoun

    the content of cognition; the main thing you are thinking about

    "it was not a good idea"; "the thought never entered my mind"

  2. mind, ideanoun

    your intention; what you intend to do

    "he had in mind to see his old teacher"; "the idea of the game is to capture all the pieces"

  3. ideanoun

    a personal view

    "he has an idea that we don't like him"

  4. estimate, estimation, approximation, ideanoun

    an approximate calculation of quantity or degree or worth

    "an estimate of what it would cost"; "a rough idea how long it would take"

  5. theme, melodic theme, musical theme, ideanoun

    (music) melodic subject of a musical composition

    "the theme is announced in the first measures"; "the accompanist picked up the idea and elaborated it"


  1. ideanoun

    An abstract archetype of a given thing, compared to which real-life examples are seen as imperfect approximations; pure essence, as opposed to actual examples.

  2. ideanoun

    The conception of someone or something as representing a perfect example; an ideal.

  3. ideanoun

    The form or shape of something; a quintessential aspect or characteristic.

  4. ideanoun

    An image of an object that is formed in the mind or recalled by the memory.

    The mere idea of you is enough to excite me.

  5. ideanoun

    More generally, any result of mental activity; a thought, a notion; a way of thinking.

    Ideas won't go to jail.A. Whitney Griswold (1952)

  6. ideanoun

    A conception in the mind of something to be done; a plan for doing something, an intention.

    I have an idea of how we might escape.

  7. ideanoun

    A vague or fanciful notion; a feeling or hunch; an impression.

    He had the wild idea that if he leant forward a little, he might be able to touch the mountain-top.

  8. ideanoun

    A musical theme or melodic subject.

  9. Etymology: From idea, from ἰδέα, from εἴδω.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. IDEAnoun

    Mental imagination.

    Etymology: ideé, French; ἰδέα.

    Whatsoever the mind perceives in itself, or is the immediate object of perception, thought, or understanding, that I call idea. John Locke.

    The form under which these things appear to the mind, or the result of our apprehension, is called an idea. Isaac Watts.

    Happy you that may to the saint, your only idea,
    Although simply attir'd, your manly affection utter. Philip Sidney.

    Our Saviour himself, being to set down the perfect idea of that which we are to pray and wish for on earth, did not teach to pray or wish for more than only that here it might be with us, as with them it is in heaven. Richard Hooker, b. i.

    Her sweet idea wander'd through his thoughts. Edward Fairfax.

    I did infer your lineaments,
    Being the right idea of your father,
    Both in your form and nobleness of mind. William Shakespeare, R. III.

    How good, how fair,
    Answering his great idea! John Milton, Paradise Lost, b. vii.

    If Geoffrey Chaucer by the best idea wrought,
    The fairest nymph before his eyes he set. Dryden.


  1. idea

    An idea is a conceptual thought or understanding, suggestion, or plan formed in the mind. It can be the result of mental visualization, creative innovation, or reflection about a topic, issue, or problem. Ideas are not tangible but can influence actions and decisions, and be communicated to others through language, symbols, or creations.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Ideanoun

    the transcript, image, or picture of a visible object, that is formed by the mind; also, a similar image of any object whatever, whether sensible or spiritual

  2. Ideanoun

    a general notion, or a conception formed by generalization

  3. Ideanoun

    hence: Any object apprehended, conceived, or thought of, by the mind; a notion, conception, or thought; the real object that is conceived or thought of

  4. Ideanoun

    a belief, option, or doctrine; a characteristic or controlling principle; as, an essential idea; the idea of development

  5. Ideanoun

    a plan or purpose of action; intention; design

  6. Ideanoun

    a rational conception; the complete conception of an object when thought of in all its essential elements or constituents; the necessary metaphysical or constituent attributes and relations, when conceived in the abstract

  7. Ideanoun

    a fiction object or picture created by the imagination; the same when proposed as a pattern to be copied, or a standard to be reached; one of the archetypes or patterns of created things, conceived by the Platonists to have excited objectively from eternity in the mind of the Deity


  1. Idea

    In philosophy, the term idea has been used to cover a range of concepts. Ideas are often construed as mental representational images; i.e., images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images. Many philosophers have considered ideas to be a fundamental ontological category of being. The capacity to create and understand the meaning of ideas is considered to be an essential and defining feature of human beings. In a popular sense, an idea arises in a reflex, spontaneous manner, even without thinking or serious reflection, for example, when we talk about the idea of a person or a place.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Idea

    ī-dē′a, n. an image of an external object formed by the mind: a notion, thought, any product of intellectual action—of memory and imagination: an archetype of the manifold varieties of existence in the universe, belonging to the supersensible world, where reality is found and where God is (Platonic); one of the three products of the reason (the Soul, the Universe, and God) transcending the conceptions of the understanding—transcendental ideas, in the functions of mind concerned with the unification of existence (Kantian); the ideal realised, the absolute truth of which everything that exists is the expression (Hegelian).—adjs. Idē′aed, Idē′a'd, provided with an idea or ideas; Idē′al, existing in idea: mental: existing in imagination only: the highest and best conceivable, the perfect, as opposed to the real, the imperfect.—n. the highest conception of anything.—adj. Idē′aless.—n. Idealisā′tion, act of forming an idea, or of raising to the highest conception.—v.t. Idē′alise, to form an idea: to raise to the highest conception.—v.i. to form ideas.—ns. Idē′alīser; Idē′alism, the doctrine that in external perceptions the objects immediately known are ideas, that all reality is in its nature psychical: any system that considers thought or the idea as the ground either of knowledge or existence: tendency towards the highest conceivable perfection, love for or search after the best and highest: the imaginative treatment of subjects; Idē′alist, one who holds the doctrine of idealism, one who strives after the ideal: an unpractical person.—adj. Idealist′ic, pertaining to idealists or to idealism.—n. Ideal′ity, ideal state: ability and disposition to form ideals of beauty and perfection.—adv. Idē′ally, in an ideal manner: mentally.—n. Idē′alogue, one given to ideas: a theorist.—v.i. Idē′ate, to form ideas.—adj. produced by an idea.—n. the correlative or object of an idea.—n. Ideā′tion, the power of the mind for forming ideas: the exercise of such power.—adjs. Ideā′tional, Idē′ative. [L.,—Gr. ideaidein, to see.]

Editors Contribution

  1. idea

    A thought or form of inspiration.

    They had an idea to spend time with their daughter as she was living in another country.

    Submitted by MaryC on January 16, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. IDEA

    What does IDEA stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the IDEA acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'idea' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #445

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'idea' in Written Corpus Frequency: #371

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'idea' in Nouns Frequency: #66

How to pronounce idea?

How to say idea in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of idea in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of idea in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of idea in a Sentence

  1. Mary Kay Ash:

    A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.

  2. Buddha:

    An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exist only as an idea

  3. Mark Ruffalo:

    It was literally like three card tables set up in a dirty production room covered with half eaten food, but the idea of 'magic camp' is like a great idea and I think that idea could be huge.

  4. Paul Weinhold:

    The idea surfaced frankly out of Salem( the state capital) that Salem and our legislature might be able to provide some support for Hayward, just as the idea came from Salem, the idea that it wasn't going to work came from Salem, so we took cues from the political powers that this was not going to fly.

  5. George Bernard Shaw:

    If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

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Translations for idea

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    • A. monish
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