Walter Mitty


Wal·​ter Mit·​ty ˌwȯl-tər-ˈmi-tē How to pronounce Walter Mitty (audio)
: a commonplace unadventurous person who seeks escape from reality through daydreaming
Walter Mittyish adjective

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The original "Walter Mitty" was created by humorist James Thurber, who wrote the famous story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." In Walter's real life, he is a reticent, henpecked proofreader befuddled by everyday life. But in his fantasies, Walter imagines himself as various daring and heroic characters. Thurber's popular story, which was first published in The New Yorker in 1939, was later made into a movie. Walter Mitty has since become the eponym for dreamers who imagine themselves in dramatic or heroic situations.

Examples of Walter Mitty in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The two have acted in several projects together, including 10 episodes of Parks and Recreation and the films Our Idiot Brother (2011) with Paul Rudd and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) with Ben Stiller. Katie Rife,, 25 July 2023 Over the years, 179 Sullivan Street has played host to other famous residents including The O.C. actress Mischa Barton, as well as screenwriter Steven Conrad, best known for The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 2 June 2023 President Biden brought his Walter Mitty fantasies to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. The Editors, National Review, 8 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Walter Mitty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Walter Mitty, daydreaming hero of a story by James Thurber

First Known Use

1947, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Walter Mitty was in 1947


Dictionary Entries Near Walter Mitty

Cite this Entry

“Walter Mitty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

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