perfect


perfect
perfect
1. In its primary meaning ‘complete, not deficient’, perfect is an absolute and cannot logically be qualified by words such as more, most, and very. (This is a philosophical point, not a matter of grammatical correctness.) As the OED notes, however, perfect is ‘often used of a near approach to such a state [of complete excellence], and hence is capable of comparison’. Such uses are found in literature from the 14c onward, including Shakespeare's

• Our men more perfect in the use of arms —2 Henry IV iv.i.153.

In modern use, perfect is used more often than not in weakened meanings and is therefore amenable to qualification:

• What figure is more perfect than the sphere —William Golding, 1965

• Maybe not purity but he seemed so perfect and so unreal, in a way —Chinua Achebe, 1987.

• The almost-complete medieval town curls around the port and at one end…is San Nicola Pellegrino, the most perfect of all cathedrals —Times, 1995.

2. Perfect is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable as an adjective and with the stress on the second syllable as a verb.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms: