In philosophy, ideas are usually construed as mental representational images of some object. Ideas can also be abstract concepts that do not present as mental 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 reflexive, spontaneous manner, even without thinking or serious reflection, for example, when we talk about the idea of a person or a place. A new or original idea can often lead to innovation..
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. from 14th c.
The conception of someone or something as representing a perfect example; an ideal. 16th-19th c.
The form or shape of something; a quintessential aspect or characteristic. 16th-18th c.
An image of an object that is formed in the mind or recalled by the memory. from 16th c.
“The mere idea of you is enough to excite me.”
More generally, any result of mental activity; a thought, a notion; a way of thinking. from 17th c.
A conception in the mind of something to be done; a plan for doing something, an intention. from 17th c.
“I have an idea of how we might escape.”
A purposeful aim or goal; intent
“If you keep sweet-talking her like that, you’re going to talk her right out of her pants.”
A vague or fanciful notion; a feeling or hunch; an impression. from 17th c.
“He had the wild idea that if he leant forward a little, he might be able to touch the mountain-top.”
A musical theme or melodic subject. from 18th c.
a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action
“recently, the idea of linking pay to performance has caught on”
“it’s a good idea to do some research before you go”
a mental impression
“our menu list will give you some idea of how interesting a low-fat diet can be”
an opinion or belief
“nineteenth-century ideas about drinking”
the aim or purpose
“I took a job with the idea of getting some money together”
(in Platonic thought) an eternally existing pattern of which individual things in any class are imperfect copies.
(in Kantian thought) a concept of pure reason, not empirically based in experience.
satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable
“this is an ideal opportunity to save money”
“the swimming pool is ideal for a quick dip”
existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality
“in an ideal world, we might have made a different decision”
representing an abstract or hypothetical optimum
“mathematical modelling can determine theoretically ideal conditions”
a person or thing regarded as perfect
“you’re my ideal of how a man should be”
a standard or principle to be aimed at
“tolerance and freedom, the liberal ideals”