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[adjective, noun pur-fikt; verb per-fekt]

  1. conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type: a perfect sphere; a perfect gentleman.
  2. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement: There is no perfect legal code. The proportions of this temple are almost perfect.
  3. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose: a perfect actor to play Mr. Micawber; a perfect saw for cutting out keyholes.
  4. entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings: a perfect apple; the perfect crime.
  5. accurate, exact, or correct in every detail: a perfect copy.
  6. thorough; complete; utter: perfect strangers.
  7. pure or unmixed: perfect yellow.
  8. unqualified; absolute: He has perfect control over his followers.
  9. expert; accomplished; proficient: She will need a perfect driving teacher.
  10. unmitigated; out-and-out; of an extreme degree: He made a perfect fool of himself.
  11. Botany.
    1. having all parts or members present.
    2. .
  12. Grammar.
    1. noting an action or state brought to a close prior to some temporal point of reference, in contrast to imperfect or incomplete action.
    2. designating a tense or other verb formation or construction with such meaning.
  13. Music.
    1. applied to the consonances of unison, octave, and fifth, as distinguished from those of the third and sixth, which are called imperfect.
    2. applied to the intervals, harmonic or melodic, of an octave, fifth, and fourth in their normal form, as opposed to augmented and diminished.
  14. Mathematics. (of a set) equal to its set of accumulation points.
  15. Obsolete. assured or certain.

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verb (used with object)
  1. to bring to completion; finish.
  2. to bring to ; make flawless or faultless: He has succeeded in perfecting his recipe for chicken Kiev.
  3. to bring nearer to perfection; improve; make better: She works hard to perfect her writing.
  4. to make fully skilled.
  5. Printing. to print the reverse of (a printed sheet).

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spring Origin of perfect

1250–1300; < Latin perfectus, past participle of perficere to finish, bring to completion (per- + -fec-, combining form of facere to + -tus past participle suffix); replacing Middle English parfit < Old French < Latin as above

Related formsper·fect·ed·ly, adverbper·fect·er, nounper·fect·ness, nounnon·per·fect·ed, adjectivequa·si-per·fect, adjectivequa·si-per·fect·ly, adverbself-per·fect·ing, adjectivesu·per·per·fect, adjectivesu·per·per·fect·ly, adverbun·per·fect, adjectiveun·per·fect·ed, adjectiveCan be confusedperfect

Synonyms for perfect

4. ;.

Synonym study

1, 2. See.

Usage note

A few usage guides still object to the use of comparison words such as more, most, nearly, almost, and rather with perfect on the grounds that perfect describes an absolute, yes-or-no condition that cannot logically be said to exist in varying degrees. The English language has never agreed to this limitation. Since its earliest use in the 13th century, perfect has, like almost all adjectives, been compared, first in the now obsolete forms perfecter and perfectest, and more recently with more, most, and similar comparison words: the most perfect arrangement of color and line imaginable. Perfect is compared in most of its general senses in all varieties of speech and writing. After all, one of the objectives of the writers of the U.S. Constitution was “to form a more perfect union.” See also, unique.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for perfect


Examples from the Web for perfect

Contemporary Examples of perfect

  • Estee Lauder has not crumbled to dust because the perfect brown face of Joan Smalls represents it.

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  • The Perfect Storm writer talks combat brotherhood and the threat posed by growing wealth inequality.

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  • So perfect that we wonder if we should risk ruining it by asking for yet another take.

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  • The Oscar-winning actress put nude photo thieves in their place with one perfect statement.

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  • It was also the most shocking revelation of 2014: Beyoncé Knowles is not perfect.

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Historical Examples of perfect

  • For more than an hour, there was perfect stillness, as the shades of evening deepened.

  • Pericles had not visited his son since his return to perfect consciousness.

  • His senses breathed the air of her perfect and compelling femininity.

  • Thoroughbred is the word for her, style and action, as the horse people say, perfect.

  • No one who listened to her could doubt her perfect truthfulness and integrity.

British Dictionary definitions for perfect


adjective (ˈpɜːfɪkt)
  1. having all essential elements
  2. unblemished; faultlessa perfect gemstone
  3. correct or preciseperfect timing
  4. utter or absolutea perfect stranger
  5. excellent in all respectsa perfect day
  6. maths exactly divisible into equal integral or polynomial roots36 is a perfect square
  7. botany
    1. (of flowers) having functional stamens and pistils
    2. (of plants) having all parts present
  8. grammar denoting a tense of verbs used in describing an action that has been completed by the subject. In English this is a compound tense, formed with have or has plus the past participle
  9. music
    1. of or relating to the intervals of the unison, fourth, fifth, and octave
    2. Also: full, final(of a cadence) ending on the tonic chord, giving a feeling of conclusionCompare
  10. archaic positive certain, or assured

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noun (ˈpɜːfɪkt)
  1. grammar
    1. the perfect tense
    2. a verb in this tense

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verb (pəˈfɛkt) (tr)
  1. to make perfect; improve to one's satisfactionhe is in Paris to perfect his French
  2. to make fully accomplished
  3. printing to print the reverse side of (a printed sheet of paper)

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Derived Formsperfectness, noun

Word Origin for perfect

C13: from Latin perfectus, from perficere to perform, from per through + facere to do


For most of its meanings, the adjective perfect describes an absolute state, i.e. one that cannot be qualified; thus something is either perfect or not perfect, and cannot be more perfect or less perfect. However when perfect means excellent in all respects, a comparative can be used with it without absurdity: the next day the weather was even more perfect

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for perfect


early 15c. alteration of Middle English parfit (c.1300), from Old French parfit "finished, completed, ready" (11c.), from Latin perfectus "completed, excellent, accomplished, exquisite," past participle of perficere "accomplish, finish, complete," from per- "completely" (see ) + facere "to perform" (see ). Often used in English as an intensive (perfect stranger, etc.).

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"to bring to full development," late 14c., parfiten, from (adj.). Related: Perfected; perfecting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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