- perfect (adj.)
- early 15c. alteration of Middle English parfit (c. 1300), from Old French parfit "finished, completed, ready" (11c.), from Latin perfectus "completed, excellent, accomplished, exquisite," past participle of perficere "accomplish, finish, complete," from per- "completely" (see per) + facere "to make, do, perform" (see factitious). Often used in English as an intensive (perfect stranger, etc.). Grammatical sense, in reference to verb tense, is from c. 1500. As a noun, late 14c. ("perfection"), from the adjective.
The difference between the Preterit and the Perfect is in English observed more strictly than in the other languages possessing corresponding tenses. The Preterit refers to some time in the past without telling anything about the connexion with the present moment, while the Perfect is a retrospective present, which connects a past occurrence with the present time, either as continued up to the present moment (inclusive time) or as having results or consequences bearing on the present moment. [Otto Jespersen, "Essentials of English Grammar," 1933]
- perfect (v.)
- "to bring to full development," late 14c., parfiten, from perfect (adj.). Related: Perfected; perfecting.