Meaning of “idea” in the English Dictionary

"idea" in British English

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ideanoun

uk /aɪˈdɪə/ us /aɪˈdiː.ə/

idea noun (SUGGESTION)

A2 [ C ] a suggestion or plan for doing something:

I've had an idea - why don't we go to the coast?
"Let's go swimming." "That's a good idea!"
If you have any ideas for what I could buy Jack, let me know.
That's when I first had the idea of starting (= planned to start) my own business.
I like the idea of living in the countryside but I'm not sure I'd like the reality.
She's full of bright (= good) ideas.
[ + to infinitive ] It was Kate's idea to hire bikes.
It's not a good idea to drive for hours without a rest.

More examples

  • It was such a brilliant idea - a real stroke of genius.
  • I'll mention your ideas to Jacinta.
  • She has a lot of interesting ideas, but they're not very practical.
  • He had some crazy idea about turning waste paper into animal food.
  • It's a good idea to read up on a company before going for an interview.

idea noun (KNOWLEDGE)

B2 [ S or U ] an understanding, thought, or picture in your mind:

Do you have any idea of what he looks like?
Can you give me an idea of the cost (= can you tell me approximately how it costs)?
I don't like the idea of living so far away from my family.
[ + question word ] I haven't the slightest/faintest idea where they've gone.
I've got a pretty good idea why they left early.
have no idea

B1 informal to not know something:

"Where's Serge?" "I've no idea."

More examples

  • I hadn't the slightest idea what he was talking about.
  • I've got a pretty good idea of how to get there.
  • I've no idea how to set about changing a tyre on a car.
  • Is that the time? I'd no idea it was so late.
  • She has a romantic idea of what it's like to be a struggling young artist.

idea noun (BELIEF)

B1 [ C ] a belief or opinion:

We have very different ideas about disciplining children.
[ + that ] Dr Leach puts forward the idea that it is impossible to spoil a child.
I'm not married - where did you get that idea (= what made you believe that)?

More examples

  • Some people have the idea that national identity will be lost as a result of European integration.
  • I'm very much against the idea that it is the woman's job to bring up the child.
  • Do you agree with the idea that violence on television has a harmful effect on children?
  • Everyone has their own ideas about the best way to bring up children.
  • Lenin carried Marx's ideas a stage further by putting them into practice.

idea noun (PURPOSE)

C1 [ S ] a purpose or reason for doing something:

The idea of the game is to get rid of all your cards as soon as you can.
The whole idea (= only purpose) of advertising is to make people buy things.
The idea behind the lottery is to raise money for good causes.

(Definition of “idea” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"idea" in American English

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ideanoun

us /ɑɪˈdi·ə/

idea noun (SUGGESTION)

[ C ] a suggestion, thought, or plan:

"Let’s go swimming." "Good idea!"
She’s full of bright ideas.

idea noun (KNOWLEDGE)

[ C/U ] knowledge or understanding about something:

[ C ] Can you give me a rough idea of the cost (= tell me approximately how much it will cost)?
[ U ] You have no idea what I just said, do you?

idea noun (BELIEF)

[ C ] a belief about something:

They have some unusual ideas about parenting.

idea noun (PURPOSE)

[ C usually sing ] a purpose or reason for doing something:

The idea behind the law is to raise money for education.

(Definition of “idea” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"idea" in Business English

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ideanoun

uk /aɪˈdɪə/ us

[ C ] a suggestion or plan for doing something:

idea about sth The CTO should have ideas about where the company needs to be heading in terms of technology.
come up with/have an idea He came up with the idea of promoting the two products together.
new/fresh/innovative ideas
They had great ideas but lacked the business know-how to turn an idea into a successful product.

[ S ] the purpose of, or reason for, doing something:

The whole idea of budgeting is to control costs.

(Definition of “idea” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)