Idea vs Ideal – What’s The Difference

What’s the difference between an idea and an ideal? Is there even a difference? In order to answer these questions, we first need to understand what each word means.

An “idea” refers to a conceptual thought or notion, often representing a plan or mental construct. On the other hand, “ideal” pertains to a standard or concept of perfection, embodying the best possible qualities or characteristics.

You might be surprised to know how many writers don’t know the difference between idea or ideal content. In this post, we’ll teach you the difference between idea vs ideal & include some example sentences.

Difference Between Idea vs Ideal

woman thinking about the difference between idea vs ideal

Ideal & idea are spelled almost identically, just like the terms gooses or geese. But these are very different words with a different meaning. So, which one should I use in my next paper? L

  • Idea: A noun that means “thought, suggestion, or concept.”
    • For example, you might have the idea for a new invention, or a great idea for a birthday present.
  • Ideal: (Noun) Means “perfect, optimal, or best.”
    • For example, an ideal vacation might be one where you spend all day lounging on the beach, sipping cocktails and reading trashy novels.

Takeaway: If you’re ever unsure which word to use, just remember that idea is all about thoughts and concepts, while ideal is all about perfection and excellence.

What Are Synonyms For Idea?

Below are synonyms for idea.

ConceptAn abstract notion or general idea.
NotionA conception or belief about something.
ThoughtA mental process involving consideration or reflection.
PlanA detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.
SchemeA systematic plan of action.
ConceptualizationThe act of forming a concept or idea.

What Are Synonyms For Ideal?

Here are synonyms for the word “ideal”.

PerfectConforming absolutely to the best standard or model.
OptimalThe most favorable or desirable under specific conditions.
ExemplaryServing as a model of excellence or perfection.
ParadigmAn ideal or standard example.
UltimateThe highest achievable level of quality or excellence.
ModelA standard or example for imitation or comparison.

Can Ideal Be Used As An Adjective?

Ideal can also be used as an adjective, meaning “perfect or ideal in every way.” While it’s still technically a goal, using ideal as a descriptive adjective implies that it’s the ultimate object of an endeavor or something that can actually be attained. It is the best possible idea or mental image .

Here are some examples:

  1. “This is the ideal situation.” (You’re saying that things couldn’t possibly be any better.)
  2. “That was an ideal response.” (You’re saying that the person said exactly the right thing.)
  3. “He’s the ideal candidate for the job.” (You’re saying that he’s the best possible person for the job.)

Takeaway: Ideal can be used as an adjective to indicate that something is the best idea or mental image.

Idea vs Ideology

An idea, by itself, is not an ideology. It is a mental image or concept. The English language can be tricky because there are so many words and phrase, like an hour vs a hour, that seem identical at first glance.

It becomes an ideology only when it is taken up as a political cause.

An ideology, on the other hand, is a system of ideas that shapes how we see the world and how we think about political issues. Ideologies are sets of beliefs about the way the world works and about human nature. They are usually based on economic, social, and religious principles.

History Idea & Ideal

Ever wonder where the words idea and ideal come from?

  • The word “idea” comes from the Greek word “idein” which means “to see.” An idea, therefore, is something that is seen or understood.
  • The word “ideal” has a long and interesting history. It comes from the Latin “idea” which was used in the Platonic sense to refer to an eternal, perfect, and unchanging reality. This meaning was eventually adopted into English, and the word came to be used to describe anything that was perfect or idealized.

Examples of “Idea” in a Sentence

Here are some common ways to use idea in a sentence.

  1. I have a rough idea of the topic of our book report.
  2. After a long day of work, I finally had an idea for my novel.
  3. The company is looking for new ideas to increase profits.
  4. That’s a great idea! I’ll add it to the list.
  5. We’ve been brainstorming & prewriting for hours, but we’re still stuck… I think we need some more coffee before we can come up with any more good ideas.

Examples of “Ideal” in a Sentence

Here are some ideal examples of the word ideal in a sentence…oh the irony!

  1. The party was so ideal that I didn’t want to leave.
  2. It’s important to find an ideal balance between work and play.
  3. After years of searching, she finally found her ideal partner.
  4. This is the ideal time to plant tomatoes in our climate zone.
  5. The company is looking for an ideal candidate for the job.

Just like we saw in our post about the words, business vs busyness, even small spelling changes can totally change the meaning & context of a word.

What Is The Most Common Idealism?

Idealism has been seen throughout history in many different forms. It has appeared as religion & philosophical doctrine. Here are some examples of popular idealism in history.

  • Classical idealism
  • Christian philosophy
  • Chinese philosophy

Grammar FAQs

Q: Why do people pronounce idea as ideal?

There is not fancy answer to why people pronounce idea as ideal. The most likely explanation is the fact that both words are spelled very similarly. However, these two words have different meanings. The word idea refers to a thought or suggestion. Ideal means you have the perfect example or mental image for a specific situation.

Q: Is it correct to say an idea?

“An idea” is grammatically correct. It’s an example of a “singular noun.” English has both singular and plural nouns, and the difference between them is whether or not the word refers to one or more than one thing. The word idea should not be preceded with “a”.

Q: How do you use the word ideal?

The definition of ideal is “perfectly suited for the purpose.” The word is commonly used to talk about an ideal situation or an ideal candidate. This means you’re saying that this is the perfect thing for the job. It’s exactly what you’re looking for. You might also hear people say the phrase “in an ideal world”. This basically means “in a perfect world”.

Q: What is the meaning of good idea?

A good idea is a suggestion that is helpful and beneficial. It can be something as simple as an observation or a plan of action. When someone offers a good idea, it usually means they’ve put thought into the matter and have come up with something that will help the situation.

Q: What is an example of an ideal?

A person may have an ideal home. This means the house meets all their wants and specific criteria. It might have plenty of natural light, fresh air, and outdoor space. It would be designed for easy access to public transportation, grocery stores, and other amenities. The home is probably affordable and sustainable, with a low environmental impact.

Q: What is a person’s ideal?

The ideal person for a specific task or job is the best person for the job. Whether they are the most experienced or most skilled…there is nobody more qualified than the “ideal person”.

Q: What is the synonym of ideal?

Some possible synonyms for “ideal” could include “perfect,” “optimal, “best”, or “exemplar”.

The Bottom Line

For new writers or non-native English speakers, it can be hard to tell the difference between idea vs ideal. After all, they are spelled just one letter apart. However, as you now know, these words are NOT the same. Use these grammar tips to elevate your writing skill! And if you can’t get your head around this concept, then use our FREE grammar checker!