Definition of idea noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈdɪə//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈdiːə//
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  1. 1  [countable] a plan, thought or suggestion, especially about what to do in a particular situation It would be a good idea to call before we leave. idea (of something/of doing something) I like the idea of living on a boat. idea (for something) He already had an idea for his next novel. Her family expected her to go to college, but she had other ideas. The surprise party was Jane's idea. I’ve had a brilliant idea! It might be an idea (= it would be sensible) to try again later. We've been toying with the idea of (= thinking about) getting a dog. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and then it all went horribly wrong. We’re having a meeting to try to come up with ideas for fund-raising. The latest big idea is to make women more interested in sport.
  2. impression
  3. 2  [uncountable, singular] idea (of something) a picture or an impression in your mind of what somebody/something is like The brochure should give you a good idea of the hotel. I had some idea of what the job would be like. She doesn't seem to have any idea of what I'm talking about. I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea (= getting the wrong impression about something). An evening at home watching TV is not my idea of a good time. If this is your idea of a joke, then I don’t find it very funny.
  4. opinion
  5. 3  [countable] idea (about something) an opinion or a belief about something He has some very strange ideas about education.
  6. feeling
  7. 4  [singular] idea (that…) a feeling that something is possible What gave you the idea that he'd be here? I have a pretty good idea where I left it—I hope I'm right.
  8. aim
  9. 5  the idea [singular] idea of something/of doing something the aim or purpose of something You'll soon get the idea (= understand). What's the idea of the game? The whole idea of going was so that we could meet her new boyfriend. Synonymspurposeaim intention plan point ideaThese are all words for talking about what somebody/​something intends to do or achieve.purpose what something is supposed to achieve; what somebody is trying to achieve:Our campaign’s main purpose is to raise money.aim what somebody is trying to achieve; what something is supposed to achieve:She went to London with the aim of finding a job. Our main aim is to increase sales in Europe.purpose or aim?Your purpose for doing something is your reason for doing it; your aim is what you want to achieve. Aim can suggest that you are only trying to achieve something; purpose gives a stronger sense of achievement being certain. Aim can be somebody’s aim or the aim of something. Purpose is more usually the purpose of something: you can talk about somebody’s purpose but that is more formal.intention what you intend to do:I have no intention of going to the wedding. She’s full of good intentions but they rarely work out.plan what you intend to do or achieve:There are no plans to build new offices.intention or plan?Your intentions are what you want to do, especially in the near future; your plans are what you have decided or arranged to do, often, but not always, in the longer term.point (rather informal) the purpose or aim of something:What’s the point of all this violence? The point of the lesson is to compare the two countries.idea (rather informal) the purpose of something; somebody’s aim:The whole idea of going was so that we could meet her new boyfriend. What’s the idea behind this?point or idea?Point is a more negative word than idea. If you say What’s the point…? you are suggesting that there is no point; if you say What’s the idea…? you are genuinely asking a question. Point, but not idea, is used to talk about things you feel annoyed or unhappy about:There’s no idea in… I don’t see the idea of…. Patterns with the purpose/​aim/​intention/​idea of doing something somebody’s intention/​plan to do something to have a(n) purpose/​aim/​intention/​plan/​point to achieve/​fulfil a(n) purpose/​aim
  10. Word Originlate Middle English (as a term in Platonic philosophy): via Latin from Greek idea ‘form, pattern’, from the base of idein ‘to see’.Extra examples Brainstorming is a good way of generating ideas. Do you have any ideas for a present for Lara? Family therapy is used as an alternative idea to medication. Give careful thought to how to structure your ideas in the essay. Group counselling is used as an alternative idea to punishment. He gave me a rough idea of what was wanted. He holds very different ideas to mine about discipline. He joined the company as an office assistant with big ideas. He kept turning the idea of resigning over in his mind. He’s obsessed with the idea of getting a motorbike. Her ideas are drawn mainly from Chinese art. His ideas flowed faster than he could express them. How could we translate the idea into business reality? I don’t know what to do, but I’m open to ideas. I don’t relish the idea of sharing an office with Tony. I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about me. I have an idea about how to tackle the problem. I haven’t got the faintest idea what she meant. I hope he’s not still harbouring ideas about asking me out. I met up with a designer to bounce a few ideas around. I think the whole idea is ridiculous. I wanted to put the idea out there. I wanted to take the week off, but my boss had other ideas. I’m toying with the idea of leaving my job. It might be an idea to leave a note on the door for Marcos. It was a struggle to get our ideas across. It’s useful to have someone to bounce ideas off. Most employees welcome the idea of a ban on smoking. People have a romantic idea of the police force. She accused the company of stealing her idea. She always tries to impose her own ideas on the rest of the team. She had the idea of advertising on the Internet. She has some funny ideas about how to motivate staff. She has very definite ideas about what kind of a job she wants. Some people started recycling, and the idea caught on. Some students started wearing denim, and the idea caught on. Swimming in an icy river is not my idea of fun. That idea didn’t work out so well. The basic idea is that we all meet up in London. The book introduces the key ideas of sociology. The book puts across complex ideas in a way anyone can understand. The germ of his idea came from watching a bird make a nest. The idea behind the ceremony is to keep the gods happy to ensure a good crop. The idea eventually led to the invention of the telephone. The idea for the Olympics originated with Pierre de Coubertin. The idea for the invention came to him in the bath. The idea had long been mooted but nothing had been done to put it into practice. The idea has now blossomed into a successful mail-order business. The idea of going to his rescue amused her. The latest big idea is to get women more interested in soccer. The movie is based on a simple idea, but a powerful one. The party had the right idea, but failed to win over the voters. These photographs challenge conventional ideas of beauty. They had to reconsider their ideas in the light of new evidence. They managed to push the idea of expanding through the committee. They seem to have got the idea that we will be giving them a lift. We were asked to suggest ideas for improving efficiency. What gave you the idea to go freelance? You’ll soon get the idea. a system of decision-making that stifles original ideas the experiences that shaped her ideas He hadn’t had the slightest idea about what had been going on. He’s definitely an ideas person. Her family wanted her to go to college, but she had other ideas. Her ideas on the family are pretty old-fashioned. I had an idea of where it might be. I have a pretty good idea who might have said that. I like the idea of living in a boat. I’d like to explore this idea in a bit more detail. I’ve got a good idea. If this is your idea of a joke, then I don’t find it very funny. It might be an idea to try again later. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My original idea was to use amateur actors. She doesn’t seem to have any idea of what I’m talking about. She’s always full of bright ideas. That’s a brilliant idea! The idea never crossed my mind. The idea that I was only interested in making money is ludicrous. The idea that she was involved in any way is absolutely ridiculous. The party was Jane’s idea. We need to have an meeting in order to bounce a few ideas around. What gave you the idea that he’d be here? What’s the idea of all this? Who on earth came up with that idea?Idioms (British English, informal) to start behaving in a more acceptable way, so that work gets done better, etc.
    give somebody ideas, put ideas into somebody’s head
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    to give somebody hopes about something that may not be possible or likely; to make somebody act or think in an unreasonable way Who's been putting ideas into his head?
    have no idea, not have the faintest, first, etc. idea
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     (informal) used to emphasize that you do not know something ‘What's she talking about?’ ‘I've no idea.’ He hasn't the faintest idea how to manage people. I had no idea she’d had such a difficult life. I don’t have any idea where he is.
    to have found a very good or successful way of living, doing something, etc. He's certainly got the right idea—retiring at 55. (informal) used to reply in a positive way to a suggestion that somebody has made Hey, that's an idea! And we could get a band, as well. (informal) used to encourage people and to tell them that they are doing something right That's the idea! You're doing fine. (informal) used to show that something is hard for somebody else to imagine You've no idea how much traffic there was tonight.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: idea