• The Sultan smiled at the idea of the son of a poor old woman asking for the hand of his daughter
    The Sultan smiled at the idea of the son of a poor old woman asking for the hand of his daughter
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n idea an approximate calculation of quantity or degree or worth "an estimate of what it would cost","a rough idea how long it would take"
    • n idea the content of cognition; the main thing you are thinking about "it was not a good idea","the thought never entered my mind"
    • n idea a personal view "he has an idea that we don't like him"
    • n idea your intention; what you intend to do "he had in mind to see his old teacher","the idea of the game is to capture all the pieces"
    • n idea (music) melodic subject of a musical composition "the theme is announced in the first measures","the accompanist picked up the idea and elaborated it"
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

Development of the Monitor Idea Development of the Monitor Idea

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Harley Proctor got the idea to name the soap "Ivory" while he was listening to a bible reading at a church in 1879
    • Idea A belief, option, or doctrine; a characteristic or controlling principle; as, an essential idea; the idea of development. "That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea , and that is a wrong one.""What is now “ idea ” for us? How infinite the fall of this word, since the time where Milton sang of the Creator contemplating his newly-created world,
      “how it showed . . . Answering his great idea ,”
      to its present use, when this person “has an idea that the train has started,” and the other “had no idea that the dinner would be so bad!”"
    • Idea A fiction object or picture created by the imagination; the same when proposed as a pattern to be copied, or a standard to be reached; one of the archetypes or patterns of created things, conceived by the Platonists to have excited objectively from eternity in the mind of the Deity. "Thence to behold this new-created world,
      The addition of his empire, how it showed
      In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair,
      Answering his great idea ."
    • Idea A general notion, or a conception formed by generalization. "Alice had not the slightest idea what latitude was."
    • Idea A plan or purpose of action; intention; design. "I shortly afterwards set off for that capital, with an idea of undertaking while there the translation of the work."
    • Idea A rational conception; the complete conception of an object when thought of in all its essential elements or constituents; the necessary metaphysical or constituent attributes and relations, when conceived in the abstract.
    • Idea Hence: Any object apprehended, conceived, or thought of, by the mind; a notion, conception, or thought; the real object that is conceived or thought of. "Whatsoever the mind perceives in itself, or as the immediate object of perception, thought, or undersanding, that I call idea ."
    • Idea The transcript, image, or picture of a visible object, that is formed by the mind; also, a similar image of any object whatever, whether sensible or spiritual. "Her sweet idea wandered through his thoughts.""Being the right idea of your father
      Both in your form and nobleness of mind."
      "This representation or likeness of the object being transmitted from thence [the senses] to the imagination, and lodged there for the view and observation of the pure intellect, is aptly and properly called its idea ."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Bill Bowerman, the co-founder of the shoe company Nike, got his first shoe idea after staring at a waffle iron. This gave him the idea of using squared spikes to make the shoes lighter
    • n idea In the Platonic philosophy, and in similar idealistic thought, an archetype, or pure immaterial pattern, of which the individual objects in any one natural class are but the imperfect copies, and by participation in which they have their being: in this sense the word is generally qualified by the adjective Platonic.
    • n idea Socrates, he [Parmenides] said, I admire the bent of your mind towards philosophy; tell me, now, was this your own distinction between abstract ideas and the things which partake of them? and do you think that there is an idea of likeness apart from the likeness which we possess, or of the one and many, or of the other notions of which Zeno has been speaking?
    • n idea I think that there are such abstract ideas, said Socrates.
    • n idea Parmenides proceeded. And would you also make abstract ideas of the just and the beautiful and the good, and of all that class of notions?
    • n idea Yes, he said, I should.
    • n idea And would you make an abstract idea of man distinct from us and from all other human creatures, or of fire and water?
    • n idea A mental image or picture.
    • n idea In the language of Descartes and of English philosophers, an immediate object of thought —that is, what one feels when one feels, or fancies when one fancies, or thinks when one thinks, and, in short, whatever is in one's understanding and directly present to cognitive consciousness. With the nominalists Berkeley and Hume the meaning of the word hardly departs from def. 2, above. With Reid, Dugald Stewart, and others it denotes an object different from the real thing and from the mind, but mediating between them. But Hume uses the word idea in a somewhat peculiar sense, to mean a sensation reproduced and worked over.
    • n idea A conception of what is desirable or ought to be, different from what has been observed; a governing conception or principle; a teleological conception.
    • n idea In the Kantian philosophy, a conception of reason the object of which transcends all possible experience, as God, Freedom of the Will, Immortality; in the Hegelian philos., the absolute truth of which everything that exists is the expression —the ideal realized, the essence which includes its own existence: in the latter sense commonly used with the definite article; in other a priori philosophies, an a priori conception of a perfection to be aimed at, not corresponding to anything observed, nor ever fully realized.
    • n idea An opinion; a thought, especially one not well established by evidence.
    • n idea An abstract principle, of not much immediate practical consequence in existing circumstances.
    • n idea [capitalized] In entomology, a genus of nymphalid butterflies, based on the Indian Nymphalis idea: now called Hestia.
    • n idea In music, a theme or subject; a phrase; sometimes, a figure. Often called a musical idea.
    • n idea Same as imperative idea .
    • n idea Same as fixed idea.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Tohru Iwatani, the inventor of the video game Pac-Man, came up with the idea when he saw a pizza with a slice missing at a dinner party
    • n Idea ī-dē′a an image of an external object formed by the mind: a notion, thought, any product of intellectual action—of memory and imagination: an archetype of the manifold varieties of existence in the universe, belonging to the supersensible world, where reality is found and where God is (Platonic); one of the three products of the reason (the Soul, the Universe, and God) transcending the conceptions of the understanding—transcendental ideas, in the functions of mind concerned with the unification of existence (Kantian); the ideal realised, the absolute truth of which everything that exists is the expression (Hegelian)
    • n Idea the highest conception of anything
    • v.i Idea to form ideas
    • adj Idea produced by an idea
    • n Idea the correlative or object of an idea
    • ***


  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    “We are the prisoners of ideas.”
  • Myrtle Barker
    Myrtle Barker
    “The idea of strictly minding our own business is moldy rubbish. Who could be so selfish?”
  • Ron Brown
    Ron Brown
    “Every new idea is an impossibility until it is born.”
  • Elias Canetti
    “It doesn't matter how new an idea is: what matters is how new it becomes.”
  • Arthur F. Corey
    Arthur F. Corey
    “An idea is the only level which moves the world.”
  • Thomas A. Edison
    “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”


Bounce ideas - If you bounce ideas off someone, you share your ideas with them to know whether they think they would work.
Faintest idea - If you don`t have the faintest idea, about something you don`t know anything at all about it.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. idea, Gr. , fr. to see; akin to E. wit,: cf. F. idée,. See Wit


In literature:

And then an idea, a grand idea, but one very painful in its beauty, crept into his mind.
"An Old Man's Love" by Anthony Trollope
Existence and unity are two other ideas that are suggested to the understanding by every object without and every idea within.
"The World's Greatest Books--Volume 14--Philosophy and Economics" by Various
Laughed at the idea of a sub-rosa daughter.
"Black Oxen" by Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
Indeed, at this very moment such, probably, was her own idea.
"Ralph the Heir" by Anthony Trollope
I have no idea how long it lasted; whether for a year, or much more, or less.
"The Life of Charles Dickens, Vol. I-III, Complete" by John Forster
But I have no idea, Harcourt, of waiting twenty years before I make my start in life.
"The Bertrams" by Anthony Trollope
The idea of transformism is already in germ in the natural classification of organized beings.
"Creative Evolution" by Henri Bergson
With his customary determination, yielding to a fixed idea, he devoted himself to it.
"The Bill-Toppers" by Andre Castaigne
Whence, then, comes this persistent and in some respects seductive idea that creation is an instinctive result?
"Essay on the Creative Imagination" by Th. Ribot
The idea of God is a complex idea, and not a simple idea.
"Christianity and Greek Philosophy" by Benjamin Franklin Cocker

In poetry:

Oh! Think of the mighty Idea,
Nations! its superhuman brow
Has upon it, from now on, the light
That will show the way to tomorrow!
"Luna" by Victor Marie Hugo
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense
"Out Beyond Ideas" by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi
The wind attendant on the solstices
Blows on the shutters of the metropoles,
Stirring no poet in his sleep, and tolls
The grand ideas of the villages.
"The Man Whose Pharynx Was Bad" by Wallace Stevens
"He never owed a shilling.
Went never drunk to bed,
He has not two ideas
Within his honest head—
In all respects he differs
From my second son, Prince Ned.
"The King Of Brentford’s Testament" by William Makepeace Thackeray
Her idea of passive beauty
Was a squinting of the left-eye,
Was a drooping of the right-eye,
Was a smile that went up sideways
To the corner of the nostrils.
"Hiawatha's Photographing " by Lewis Carroll
For all his learning, and the thought of power
That seized thy one Idea everywhere,
Brought the eternal down into the hour,
And taught the dead thy life to claim and share;
"A Thanksgiving For F. D. Maurice" by George MacDonald

In news:

The economic downturn is reviving an idea that colleges have experimented with for years, with limited success.
Is that really a good idea.
Paul showed that the strength of his ideas will remain a powerful force in the Republican race.
One idea is that the statues, created between 1400 and 1200 B.C.
One of Bailiff 's ideas at Texas State was the Golden Bobcats, a group of retirees who helped with administrative tasks around the office.
Office innovationOne of Bailiff 's ideas at Texas State was the Golden Bobcats, a group of retirees who helped with administrative tasks around the office.
I know it's never a smart idea to select a pair of boots based on how.
The idea of "taking the park to the backcountry," is a bit clichéd these days.
The Santa Fe Bandstand has always seemed like a great idea on paper.
When documentarian Jeff Kaufman set out to produce a film on Swing era drummer Chick Webb six years ago, he had no idea the wealth of findings he would come across.
Fun Ideas for a Bang-Up Fourth.
Fun Ideas for a Bang-Up Fourth of July in and Around DC.
BMW's Chris Bangle has ideas about where new car designs are headed.
THE enthusiasm for microfinance rests on the idea that people who have next to no money deserve financial services just as much as those who have plenty.
Mortgage Resolution Partners co-founder Steven Gluckstern says the idea to help underwater homeowners is not a Wall Street story.

In science:

Proof: We want to give here only the idea of the proof.
Locally trivial quantum vector bundles and associated vector bundles
This method of calculating the localization length is based on the idea by Hatano and Nelson .
Random-mass Dirac fermions in an imaginary vector potential: Delocalization transition and localization length
The idea is that the partition function, which is a sum over all metrics, can be rewritten as a sum over random surfaces.
Random Matrix Theory and Chiral Symmetry in QCD
Following ideas of ref. [BFRFW] we have Proposition 6.3.
Solutions to WDVV from generalized Drinfeld-Sokolov hierarchies
The SLDNFA-system is implemented by the ideas of Marc Denecker, Danny De Schreye and many others.