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in a perfect world

If things existed or happened exactly as one would like. Well, in a perfect world I'd be able to take time off for paternity leave without having it affect my pay, but at least I get to take the time off at all! Well, we'd be able to provide healthcare services to every citizen without charge in a perfect world, but unfortunately that's never going to happen.
See also: perfect, world

in an ideal world

If things existed or happened exactly as one would like. Well, in an ideal world I'd be able to take time off for paternity leave without having it affect my pay, but at least I get to take the time off at all! Well, we'd be able to provide healthcare services to every citizen without charge in an ideal world, but unfortunately that's never going to happen.
See also: ideal, world


Extremely accurate; very well placed or perfectly judged. (Used especially of maneuvers, moves, or shots in sport.) Primarily heard in UK. With only a few seconds left, the striker managed an inch-perfect goal from midfield.

let (the) perfect be the enemy of (the) good

To allow the demand, desire, or insistence for perfection decrease the chances of obtaining a good or favorable result in the end. (Usually used in the negative as an imperative.) I know you want your research paper to be great, but don't let perfect be the enemy of good, or you won't even finish it in time! As a manager, you have to realize both the potential and the limits of your employees, so be sure not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
See also: enemy, good, let, of, perfect

match for (someone or something)

1. Someone who is well suited to someone else, especially as a romantic partner. We're actually a perfect match for one another, despite our differences in personality—maybe even because of those differences. I think he would be a good match for you—just go on one date and see how you get on!
2. Someone who able to stand up to or compete against someone else with equal strength or skill. Often used in negative constructions. They've had an impressive run this season, but the young team is just no match for the returning champions. No one put much faith in the young defense attorney, but he has proven a match for the state prosecutor.
See also: match

perfect storm

A chance or rare combination of individual elements, circumstances, or events that together form a disastrous, catastrophic, or extremely unpleasant problem or difficulty. The incumbent mayor's re-election campaign is getting underway amidst a perfect storm of allegations and news stories about corruption, tax evasion, and racketeering within the city's government. The oil crisis has set off a perfect storm in the Middle East, where foreign leaders have depended on its economic stability to keep their warring countries from absolute chaos and anarchy.
See also: perfect, storm

perfect stranger

Someone with whom one has absolutely no previous association. My mom and dad didn't come to see our son until he was nearly three years old, so, to him, they were perfect strangers! She thought it was terribly funny to go up to perfect strangers and begin conversations with them as if they had been lifelong friends.
See also: perfect, stranger

picture perfect

Exactly as desired in every detail. Often hyphenated. My goodness, what a party. Everything was picture perfect. She's obsessed with having a picture-perfect wedding.
See also: perfect, picture


Reaching or conveying the exactly right note or tone. The phrase refers to music but it is often applied to writing and other things. After her pitch-perfect rendition, I definitely think we should ask Meredith to join the choir. This is a pitch-perfect parody of Hemingway's writing style, don't you think?

practice makes perfect

Practicing or repeatedly doing something will make one become proficient or skillful at it. A: "I just can't seem to get the rhythm of this song quire right." B: "Keep at it—practice makes perfect!" You can't expect to start a new sport and be amazing at it right away. As is always the case, practice makes perfect.
See also: make, perfect, practice

perfect stranger

 and total stranger
Fig. a person who is completely unknown [to oneself]. I was stopped on the street by a perfect stranger who wanted to know my name. If a total stranger asked me such a personal question, I am sure I would not answer!
See also: perfect, stranger

picture perfect

Fig. looking exactly correct or right. (Hyphenated as a modifier.) At last, everything was picture perfect. Nothing less than a picture-perfect party table will do.
See also: perfect, picture

Practice makes perfect.

Prov. Cliché Doing something over and over again is the only way to learn to do it well. Jill: I'm not going to try to play the piano anymore. I always make so many mistakes. Jane: Don't give up. Practice makes perfect. Child: How come you're so good at peeling potatoes? Father: I did it a lot in the army, and practice makes perfect.
See also: make, perfect, practice

practice makes perfect

Frequently doing something makes one better at doing it, as in I've knit at least a hundred sweaters, but in my case practice hasn't made perfect. This proverbial expression was once put as Use makes mastery, but by 1560 the present form had become established.
See also: make, perfect, practice

practice makes perfect

COMMON People say practice makes perfect to mean that if you practise something enough, you will eventually be able to do it perfectly. It is like learning to ride a bike. You may fall off a few times but practice makes perfect.
See also: make, perfect, practice

practice makes perfect

regular exercise of an activity or skill is the way to become proficient in it.
See also: make, perfect, practice

ˌpractice makes ˈperfect

(saying) a way of encouraging people by telling them that if you do an activity regularly you will become very good at it: If you want to learn a language, speak it as much as you can. Practice makes perfect!
See also: make, perfect, practice

in an ˌideal/a ˌperfect ˈworld

used to say that something is what you would like to happen or what should happen, but you know it cannot: In an ideal world we would be recycling and reusing everything.
See also: ideal, perfect, world

letter perfect

Correct in every detail; verbatim. The term comes from the nineteenth-century stage, in which actors were told to memorize their parts precisely to the letter of every word. It probably evolved from an earlier expression, to the letter, which had very much the same meaning. “I will obey you to the letter,” wrote Byron (Sardanapalus, 1821).
See also: letter, perfect

picture perfect

Exactly right, especially in appearance. This term, from the twentieth century, alludes to the precise resemblance of a painting or photograph to its subject, as in “The day was picture perfect for a picnic—not a cloud in the sky.” Time magazine used the term as the caption for a photograph of the presidential candidate Al Gore, his wife Tipper, running mate Joe Lieberman, and Lieberman’s wife Hadassah, calling it “the purest moment of their campaign” (Aug. 21, 2000).
See also: perfect, picture

practice makes perfect

The more one does something, the better at it one becomes. This ancient proverb began as use makes perfect. In English it dates from the fifteenth century but probably was a version of a much older Latin proverb. It exists in many languages, so presumably most people agree. Ralph Waldo Emerson almost did: “Practice is nine-tenths,” he wrote (Conduct of Life: Power, 1860). An English writer in the Spectator of May 10, 1902, differed: “Practice never makes perfect. It improves up to a point.”
See also: make, perfect, practice
References in periodicals archive ?
It simply moves the action to the virtual world (as in (10) and (11)), but cannot signal its perfectness. As we will see later, the reason for this is the epistemic distance of the l-participle.
Schilling, Perfectness of Kirillov-Reshetikhin crystals for nonexceptional type, Contemp.
Debbie said: " When we were first told that there was something wrong with our wee boy, our bundle of perfectness, it was devastating.
so that the whole physical creation is organizing itself for a sublime march toward perfectness." (30) The important factors for Beecher were that evolution meant progress, and it meant that the Genesis account was of no relevance for understanding the origins of life and the world.
And since then, again and again it's been affirmed for me, the perfectness, the wholeness, the goodness of who I am.
Whether it is a memorial reconstruction of a version already performed or it represents an abridged version prepared for performance, what the text preserves in some degree of perfectness, or rather, imperfectness is an acting version of the play.
The "perfectness of his lines" she calls "picturesque" (19), yet "there is no thread of connection to string them upon, and their brilliant confusion only dazzles the eye, and brings no satisfaction to the heart.
(30) To be sure, many critics in addition to Moynahan and Dyson have tried to tough it out; hence Mary Armstrong finds Florence the "perfect Victorian female: beautiful to the point of otherworldliness, selfless to the point of invisibility," and then informs us that perfectness is "boring" ("Pursuing Perfection: Dombey and Son, Female Homoerotic Desire and the Sentimental Heroine," Studies in the Novel 28.3 [1996] : 282-83) ; and Nancy Cervetti quotes Gilbert and Gubar on selflessness: "To be selfless is not only to be noble, it is to be dead." Of this forgiveness scene in particular, she waxes quite indignant: "Where is her sense of personal dignity?
That picture of perfectness would be there and the responsibility, you know, to not let any of it fall and to keep going day after day after day.
In other words, the question should be considered is the perfectness of a counting method in relation to its implementing cost but not its resulting winners or losers--winners are the people to stand to be better off while losers become worse off when a certain counting method is employed.
Neither Roman nor Arab, Greek nor Egyptian, Persian nor Mongol ever took himself and his own perfectness with such disconcerting seriousness as the modern white man.
Rather than passively consuming such persecutory myths of feminine perfectness, these artists treat them as our psychic playthings (which they are) and wring meanings and feelings from them at odds with the "ready-made" versions.
Wherefore consider with yourselves the end of the Ministry towards the children of God, towards the Spouse and Body of Christ; and see that ye never cease your labour, your care and diligence, until ye have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as are or shall he committed to your charge, unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ [italics added], that there be no place left among you, either for error in religion, or for viciousness in life.