From Middle English imperfit, from Old French imparfit (modern French imparfait), from Latin imperfectus. Spelling modified 15c. to conform Latin etymology. See im- +‎ perfect.


  • (adjective, noun) IPA(key): /ɪmˈpɜː(ɹ)fɪkt/, /ɪmˈpɜː(ɹ)fɛkt/
    • (file)
  • (verb) IPA(key): /ɪmpə(ɹ)ˈfɛkt/
    • (file)


imperfect (comparative more imperfect, superlative most imperfect)

  1. not perfect
    Synonyms: defective, fallible, faultful, faulty
    Antonyms: faultless, infallible, perfect
  2. (botany) unisexual: having either male (with stamens) or female (with pistil) flowers, but not with both.
    Antonym: perfect
  3. (taxonomy) known or expected to be polyphyletic, as of a form taxon.
  4. (obsolete) lacking some elementary organ that is essential to successful or normal activity.
    • 1653, Jeremy Taylor, “Twenty-five Sermons Preached at Golden Grove; Being for the Winter Half-year, []: Sermon III. [Doomsday Book; or, Christ’s Advent to Judgment.] Part III.”, in Reginald Heber, editor, The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D.D. [], volume V, London: Ogle, Duncan, and Co. []; and Richard Priestley, [], published 1822, OCLC 956524510, page 35:
      When the prophet Joel was describing the formidable accidents in the day of the Lord's judgment, and the fearful sentence of an angry Judge, he was not able to express it, but stammered like a child, or an amazed, imperfect person.
  5. (grammar) belonging to a tense of verbs used in describing a past action that is incomplete or continuous

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imperfect (plural imperfects)

  1. something having a minor flaw
  2. (grammar) a tense of verbs used in describing a past action that is incomplete or continuous
    Synonym: preterimperfect

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imperfect (third-person singular simple present imperfects, present participle imperfecting, simple past and past participle imperfected)

  1. (transitive) to make imperfect
    • 1651, John Donne, Letter to Henry Goodere, in Letters to Severall Persons of Honour, edited by Charles Edmund Merrill, Jr., New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1910,[1]
      I write to you from the Spring Garden, whither I withdrew my self to think of this; and the intensenesse of my thinking ends in this, that by my help Gods work should be imperfected, if by any means I resisted the amasement.
    • 1716, Thomas Browne, Christian Morals, 2nd edition edited by Samuel Johnson, London: J. Payne, 1756, Part I, p. 43,[2]
      Time, which perfects some things, imperfects also others.
    • 1962, Alec Harman and Wilfrid Mellers, Man and His Music: The Story of Musical Experience in the West, Oxford University Press, Part I, Chapter 5, p. 126,[3]
      [] such was their desire for greater rhythmic freedom that composers began to use red notes as well. [] Their value was [] restricted at first, for redness implies the imperfecting of a note which is perfect if black []




imperfect m or n (feminine singular imperfectă, masculine plural imperfecți, feminine and neuter plural imperfecte)

  1. imperfect



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