Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the sending of a spacecraft to the moon

a radical and adventurous idea

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The compound noun moonshot is formed from the nouns ‘moon’ and ‘shot’, meaning an act of shooting or launching. It was first used in 1949, when the idea of sending a spacecraft to the moon was starting to be seriously considered.


Moonshots, metaphorical rather than literal, have been in the news this week as the UK Prime Minister used the term to refer to an ambitious programme of testing to control the Covid-19 pandemic. The ambition, which has been described as unrealistic by some, comes into the category of moonshot thinking, defined as a type of thinking that aims to achieve something that is generally believed to be impossible. Both terms are entries in the Macmillan Dictionary Open Dictionary, the first since 2015, the second since 2016. If you have words or expressions you think deserve to be in the dictionary (not invented by you or your friends) you can add them here.


We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
(John F Kennedy)

Moonshot thinking starts with picking a big problem: something huge, long existing, or on a global scale.
(Astro Teller)

Related words

aspiration, ambition, blue sky thinking

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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