Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
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
not have the faintest ideaalso 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
What's the big idea?(informal)
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?
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]
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]
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.
n. the head; the brain. You got a good solution up there in your idea box by any chance?