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abstract idea

An idea or thought that is intangible or outside the constraints or possibilities of the real world. Some regard love as but an abstract idea, as it is impossible to define what makes love real.
See also: abstract, idea

balk at the idea (of something)

To indignantly reject or recoil from a given idea, topic, or suggestion. He balked at the idea of reducing the number of staff to pay for an increase to the executives' pay.
See also: balk, idea

get the wrong idea (about someone or something)

To develop a belief or impression (about someone or something) that is untrue, incorrect, or has been misinterpreted or misunderstood. I feel like I need to explain my actions, or you'll end up getting the wrong idea about me. Now don't get the wrong idea or anything, but I think we should spend a little bit of time apart. Whoa, I think you've gotten the wrong idea about tonight—this wasn't supposed to be a date or anything like that!
See also: get, idea, wrong

put an idea in(to) (someone's) head

To suggest something to someone; to lead someone to start believing (in) something; to make someone want to start doing something. (Used of suggestions, ideas, or beliefs that someone wouldn't have thought of on his or her own, especially those that are foolish or negative.) Of course we're not going to sell the house! Who put that idea in your head? I can't believe you were caught smoking marijuana. I bet it's that no-good kid Casey who put an idea like that into your head. I heard John putting an idea into his sister's head that she was adopted.
See also: head, idea, put

a bright idea

A unique or shrewd thought. This phrase is often used in the negative or sarcastically to show the speaker's disapproval with a particular idea. That's really a bright idea—I think we should implement it into this process in the future. Of course his car is gone—parking in a tow zone was not a bright idea!
See also: bright, idea

not have the faintest idea

To have no knowledge or understanding about something. I do not have the faintest idea where I left my car keys. He does not have the faintest idea how hard it is to run a business.
See also: faint, have, idea, not

not have the foggiest idea

To have no knowledge or understanding about something. He does not have the foggiest idea how hard it is to run a business. I do not have the foggiest idea where I left my car keys.
See also: foggy, have, idea, not

*bright idea

a clever thought or new idea. (*Typically: have ~; get ~; give someone ~.) Now and then I get a bright idea. John hardly ever gets a bright idea.
See also: bright, idea

flirt with the idea of doing something

Fig. to think about doing something; to toy with an idea; to consider something, but not too seriously. (See also flirt with someone.) I flirted with the idea of going to Europe for two weeks. Jane flirted with the idea of quitting her job.
See also: doing, flirt, idea, of

put ideas into someone's head

Fig. to suggest something-usually something bad-to someone (who would not have thought of it otherwise). Bill keeps getting into trouble. Please don't put ideas into his head. Bob would get along all right if other kids didn't put ideas into his head.
See also: head, idea, put

*rough idea (about something)

 and *rough idea (of something)
a general idea; an estimate. (*Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone ~.) I need to get a rough idea of how many people will be there. I'll manage to get a rough idea. That's good enough.
See also: idea, rough

The very idea!

I do not approve!; That is outrageous! Resignation? The very idea! The very idea! Absolutely not!
See also: very

What's the (big) idea?

Inf. Why did you do that? (Usually said in anger.) Please don't do that! What's the idea? Why did you shove me? What's the big idea?

float an idea

to suggest something informally to see if people accept it or are interested in it The mayor originally floated the idea, and it was quickly taken up by a number of city agencies.
Related vocabulary: test the waters
See also: float, idea

not have the faintest idea

also not have the foggiest idea
to not know anything at all about something not have the foggiest notion I didn't have the faintest idea where I was or which way I was going – I simply knew I had to get away. These people don't have the foggiest idea what America's really like.
Usage notes: also used in the forms I have no idea and I haven't the slightest idea
See also: faint, have, idea, not

What's the big idea?

something that you say when you want to know why someone has done something that annoys you What's the big idea? That's my lunch you're eating.
See think big, as large as life, make great play of
See also: big

put ideas into somebody's head

to make someone want to do something they had not thought about doing before, especially something stupid (often in continuous tenses) Don't go putting ideas into his head. We haven't got the money for a car. Who put all these ideas into her head about becoming an actress?
See also: head, idea, put

bright idea

A clever thought or plan. For example, John had a bright idea for saving space-we would each have a terminal but share the printer . This term uses bright in the sense of "intelligent" or "quick-witted" and may be employed either straightforwardly, as in the example above, or ironically, as in Jumping in the pool with your clothes on-that was some bright idea. [Late 1800s]
See also: bright, idea

put ideas into someone's head

Also, put an idea in someone's head. Suggest something to someone, as in No, we're not moving-what put that idea in your head? [Mid-1800s]
See also: head, idea, put

the idea

Also, the very idea. See under what's the idea.
See also: idea

what's the idea

Also, what's the big idea; the very idea. What do you think you are doing? What foolishness do you have in mind? For example, What's the idea of taking the car without permission? or You've invited yourself along? What's the big idea? or Take a two-year-old up Mount Washington? The very idea! These phrases, all implying the speaker's disapproval, use idea in the sense of "what one has in mind." The first two date from about 1900; the third is heard more in Britain than America.
See also: idea

the foggiest (idea)

n. (even) a hazy idea. (Usually in the negative.) I’m sorry I don’t know. I haven’t the foggiest.
See also: foggy, idea

idea box

n. the head; the brain. You got a good solution up there in your idea box by any chance?
See also: box, idea
References in classic literature ?
My faith, it was time that idea came into Porthos's head.
Suddenly an idea occurred to him -- he smiled, and the perspiration dried on his forehead.
it was a proof that she did not think the idea would come to me, her having determined to suggest it herself in that practical, argumentative, heroic way, in which the timidity however had been so much more striking than the boldness that her reasons appeared to come first and her feelings afterward.
New York, for a young man who had frequented the Goncourts and Flaubert, and who thought the life of ideas the only one worth living
Michael Angelo, who, no doubt, felt even in the sixteenth century that it was dying, had a last idea, an idea of despair.
In truth, my dear Porthos, you possess ideas entirely original.
he adds, with the evident idea that that would at once put the whole matter right.
This was a bold figure of speech, but not exactly the right thing; for, unhappily, the pat opening had slipped away--even couplets from Pope may be but "fallings from us, vanishings," when fear clutches us, and a glass of sherry is hurrying like smoke among our ideas.
That we had no definite plan, or even idea, I am confident.
Despite his own superior point of view, he had an idea that she knew a lot, and he experienced a fleeting feeling like that of a barbarian face to face with the evidence of some tremendous culture.
Just as it was tremblingly imperative that Jerry must suddenly squat down, point his nose at the zenith, and vocalize his heart-rending woe, an idea came to him.
Without knowing why--except that you dislike the idea of my marrying Mrs.
My earrings supplied me with the idea of which I was in search.
The ideas are sometimes described as many, coextensive with the universals of sense and also with the first principles of ethics; or again they are absorbed into the single idea of good, and subordinated to it.
So long as the quality and the low prices can be maintained, here are two inexhaustible sources of wealth for the canton, which suggested to my mind the idea of establishing three fairs in the year.