Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1300-1400
Language: Latin
Origin: Greek, from idein 'to see'

idea

noun
     
i‧dea S1 W1
1

plan/suggestion

[countable] a plan or suggestion for a possible course of action, especially one that you think of suddenlyCOLLOCATIONS COLLOCATIONS
have an idea get an idea give somebody an idea come up with/hit on an idea (=think of a new idea) the idea of (doing) something good/great/brilliant idea bad/stupid/crazy idea it is a good/bad idea to do something be full of ideas also be bursting with ideas (=have a lot of ideas) toy with an idea (=think about a plan, but not very seriously) exchange/share ideas also an exchange of ideas fire ideas off each other (=discuss each other's ideas and think of good new ones)
I've had an idea. Why don't we walk into town?
She got the idea from an article in a fashion magazine.
What gave you the idea of using a male actor for the part?
Mike's always good at coming up with new ideas.
It was my wife's idea to move house.
idea for
The idea for the book came from an old war movie.
What a great idea!
I knew it was a bad idea to leave him on his own.
She was always very enthusiastic and bursting with ideas.
an exchange of ideas between academic and business communities
Lately I've been toying with the idea of going back to school.
! Do not say 'the idea to do something'. Say the idea of doing something. However, you can say it is a good idea to do something and it was your idea to do something.
2

knowledge

[uncountable and countable] a general understanding of something, based on some knowledge about it:
Could you give me an idea of how bad his injuries are?
You must have some idea (=have at least a little knowledge) of what happened to the money.
Don't worry if you don't understand it right now - you'll get the idea (=begin to understand or be able to do something).
have no idea/not have any idea
She doesn't have any idea where they've gone.
a general/rough idea (=a not very exact idea)
Can you give me a rough idea of how much the repairs will cost?
not have the faintest/slightest/foggiest idea spoken:
I don't have the faintest idea what to get Rachel for her birthday.
3

aim/intention

[uncountable and countable] the aim, intention, or purpose of doing something:
The idea is to teach children to save money.
idea of/behind
The idea behind the outing is to encourage employees to get to know each other.
They wanted Mike to go to law school, but he had other ideas (=had different plans).
4

how you imagine something to be

[uncountable and countable] an image in your mind of what something is like or should be like
idea of
Chefs differ in their idea of what makes a good dessert.
I only have a vague idea of the kind of work I'll be doing.
It helps if you have a clear idea of what you want.
not my idea of something
Chocolate milk and a piece of cake is not my idea of dinner.
The very idea of kissing him made her feel physically sick.
5

belief/opinion

[countable usually plural] someone's opinion or belief about something
idea about
She had some rather unusual ideas about raising children.
where did you get that idea? (=used to say that what someone thinks is completely wrong)
No, I'm not seeing Jane. Where did you get that idea?
6

principle

[countable] a principle or belief about how something is or should be
idea of
The whole idea of democracy was something strange and new to most people.
idea that
It's based on the idea that all people are created equal.
7

have an idea (that)

to be fairly sure that something is true, without being completely sure:
I'm not sure where my necklace is, but I have a pretty good idea who took it.
8

get the wrong idea

to think that something is true when it is not:
Don't get the wrong idea about Dan and Helen - they're just friends.
9

have the right idea

to act or think in a way that will probably lead to the correct result:
He still makes a few mistakes but I reckon he's got the right idea.
10

that's/there's an idea

spoken used to say that you like what someone has just suggested:
'Why don't you invite Paula to come with us?' 'There's an idea.'
11

that's the idea

spoken
a) used to tell someone who is learning to do something that they are doing it the right way, in order to encourage them:
Keep your knees bent and lean forward slightly. That's the idea!
b) used to emphasize what the main point of something is, or to say that someone understands that point:
'You're thinking of getting a new job?' 'Yeah, that's the idea.'
12

bright idea

a very clever idea, often used in a joking way to mean a very stupid idea or action:
Whose bright idea was it to leave the back door wide open?
13

give somebody ideas/put ideas into somebody's head

to make someone think of doing something that they had not thought of doing before, especially something that they should not do:
Nick tells me he wants a motorbike. Have you been putting ideas into his head?
14

is it somebody's idea of a joke?

used when you are surprised and often rather annoyed by what someone has said or done:
'She wants you to do it by tomorrow.' 'Is that your idea of a joke?'
15

what's the big idea?

spoken used when you cannot understand why someone has done something
16

you have no idea (how/what etc)

spoken used when you are telling someone that something is extremely good, bad etc:
You have no idea how worried I was.
17

the idea!

old-fashioned spoken used to express surprise or disapproval when someone has said something stupid

➔ buck your ideas up

at buck up (4)

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