The term perfect identifies the perfect fifth as belonging to the group of perfect intervals (including the unison, perfect fourth and octave), so called because of their simple pitch relationships and their high degree of consonance. When an instrument with only twelve notes to an octave (such as the piano) is tuned using Pythagorean tuning, one of the twelve fifths (the wolf fifth) sounds severely discordant and can hardly be qualified as "perfect", if this term is interpreted as "highly consonant". However, when using correct enharmonic spelling, the wolf fifth in Pythagorean tuning or meantone temperament is actually not a perfect fifth but a diminished sixth (for instance G♯–E♭).
Perfect intervals are also defined as those natural intervals whose inversions are also perfect, where natural, as opposed to altered, designates those intervals between a base note and another note in the major diatonic scale starting at that base note (for example, the intervals from C to C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, with no sharps or flats); this definition leads to the perfect intervals being only the unison, fourth, fifth, and octave, without appealing to degrees of consonance.
The term perfect has also been used as a synonym of just, to distinguish intervals tuned to ratios of small integers from those that are "tempered" or "imperfect" in various other tuning systems, such as equal temperament. The perfect unison has a pitch ratio 1:1, the perfect octave 2:1, the perfect fourth 4:3, and the perfect fifth 3:2.
Within this definition, other intervals may also be called perfect, for example a perfect third (5:4) or a perfect major sixth (5:3).