What does imperfect mean?

Definitions for imperfect
ɪmˈpɜr fɪktim·per·fect

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

Princeton's WordNet

  1. progressive, progressive tense, imperfect, imperfect tense, continuous tenseadjective

    a tense of verbs used in describing action that is on-going

  2. imperfectadjective

    not perfect; defective or inadequate

    "had only an imperfect understanding of his responsibilities"; "imperfect mortals"; "drainage here is imperfect"

  3. fallible, frail, imperfect, weakadjective

    wanting in moral strength, courage, or will; having the attributes of man as opposed to e.g. divine beings

    "I'm only a fallible human"; "frail humanity"


  1. imperfectnoun

    Something having a minor flaw

  2. imperfectnoun

    A tense of verbs used in describing a past action that is incomplete or continuous.

  3. imperfectadjective

    Not perfect

  4. imperfectadjective

    unisexual: having either male (with stamens) or female (with pistil) flowers, but not with both.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. IMPERFECTadjective

    Etymology: imparfait, Fr. imperfectus, Latin.

    Something he left imperfect in the state,
    Which, since his coming forth, is thought of,
    Which brought the kingdom so much fear and danger,
    That his return was most required. William Shakespeare.

    Opinion is a light, vain, crude and imperfect thing, settled in the imagination; but never arriving at the understanding, there to obtain the tincture of reason. Ben Jonson.

    The middle action, which produceth imperfect bodies, is fitly called, by some of the ancients, inquination or inconcoction, which is a kind of putrefaction. Francis Bacon.

    The ancients were imperfect in the doctrine of meteors, by their ignorance of gunpowder and fireworks. Brown.

    There are divers things we agree to be knowledge by the bare light of nature, which yet are so uneasy to be satisfactorily understood by our imperfect intellects, that let them be delivered in the clearest expressions, the notions themselves will yet appear obscure. Boyle.

    A marcor is either imperfect, tending to a greater withering, which is curable; or perfect, that is, an intire wasting of the body, excluding all cure. Gideon Harvey, on Consumptions.

    The still-born sounds upon the palate hung,
    And dy'd imperfect on the falt'ring tongue. Dryden.

    As obscure and imperfect ideas often involve our reason, so do dubious words puzzle men. John Locke.


  1. imperfect

    Imperfect refers to something that is flawed, incomplete, or deficient in some way, lacking the full potential, quality, or excellence. It can also apply to a tense in various languages that indicates an ongoing or incomplete action at a particular point in the past.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Imperfectadjective

    not perfect; not complete in all its parts; wanting a part; deective; deficient

  2. Imperfectadjective

    wanting in some elementary organ that is essential to successful or normal activity

  3. Imperfectadjective

    not fulfilling its design; not realizing an ideal; not conformed to a standard or rule; not satisfying the taste or conscience; esthetically or morally defective

  4. Imperfectnoun

    the imperfect tense; or the form of a verb denoting the imperfect tense

  5. Imperfectverb

    to make imperfect

  6. Etymology: [L. imperfectus: pref. im- not + perfectus perfect: cf. F imparfait, whence OE. imparfit. See Perfect.]


  1. Imperfect

    The imperfect is a verb form, found in various languages, which combines past tense and imperfective aspect. It can therefore have meanings similar to the English "was walking" or "used to walk". It contrasts with preterite forms, which refer to a single completed event in the past. Traditionally, the imperfect of languages such as Latin and French is referred to as one of the tenses, although in fact it encodes aspectual information in addition to tense. It may be more precisely called past imperfective. When used in relation to English, "imperfect" usually refers to forms like was doing or were doing, but these are more commonly called past progressive or past continuous. The term can take on specific conventional meanings in the grammars of particular languages. In German, Imperfekt was used to refer to the simply conjugated past tense, but the term Präteritum is now preferred, since the form does not carry any implication of imperfective aspect.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Imperfect

    im-pėr′fekt, adj. incomplete: defective: not fulfilling its design: liable to err.—adv. Imper′fectly.—ns. Imper′fectness, Imperfec′tion.

How to pronounce imperfect?

How to say imperfect in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of imperfect in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of imperfect in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of imperfect in a Sentence

  1. Jon Meacham:

    He was our shield in danger's hour, an imperfect man, he left us a more perfect union.

  2. Dave Meurer:

    A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.

  3. Amy Hillyard Jensen:

    Get rid of imagined guilt. You did the best you could at the time, all things considered. If you made mistakes, learn to accept that we are all imperfect. Only hindsight is 20-20. If you are convinced that you have real guilt, consider professional or spiritual counseling (with a competent and trustworthy counselor). If you believe in God a pastor can help you believe also in God's forgiveness.

  4. Brene Brown:

    The real questions for parents should be: ‘Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?’ If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn’t exist, and I’ve found what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.

  5. Donald Trump:

    We've got a lot of killers. What do you think, our country's so innocent? to state that there's some moral equivalency between an imperfect nation -- that's the United States of America -- and Vladimir Putin is appalling.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for imperfect

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for imperfect »


Find a translation for the imperfect definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"imperfect." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 23 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/imperfect>.

Discuss these imperfect definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for imperfect? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    fortification consisting of a low wall
    A breastwork
    B muddle
    C wavering
    D snap

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for imperfect: