Word of the Day



ideas or plans that are quixotic are not practical and usually do not succeed

Origin and usage

Hailing from the 17th century novel Don Quixote, which featured a chivalrous yet inept titular character, quixotic refers to ideas which are both unrealistic and hopeless.


Used as an adjective, quixotic describes schemes which may be highly imaginative, but are ultimately impractical. A person who is extremely unfit but plans to run a marathon could be thought of as quixotic as they are lacking sense in practical matters.

In 2017, a campaign aimed at splitting the state of California off from the rest of the United States was launched. Known as Calexit, organisers suggested the annexed land would form a Native American nation. However, these proposals were described as quixotic by observers.

Written in two parts by the Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote follows the adventures of an ordinary Spanish man called Don Quixote, who is fascinated by knights and chivalry. Along with his squire, Sancho Panza, he wanders the land attempting to right wrongs. Although his intentions are always noble, Quixote is often foolish or irrational and makes matters worse. In a particularly notable encounter, he attempts to attack a field of windmills, believing them to be tyrannical giants.


“He believed in himself, believed in his quixotic ambition, letting the failures of the previous day disappear as each new day dawned. Yesterday was not today. The past did not predict the future if he could learn from his mistakes.”

(Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam)

“Trust is tough since it involves that quixotic mix of integrity, vulnerability, and intimacy. But trust anyway.”

(Jeffrey Fry)


impulsive, utopian, unrealistic

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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