pipe dream


Definition of pipe dream 

: an illusory or fantastic plan, hope, or story

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of pipe dream in a Sentence

His plan for starting his own business was just a pipe dream. opening our own restaurant has long been a pipe dream

Recent Examples on the Web

Ambitious federal legislation is a pipe dream for now, and will remain so for as long as the GOP a) is bananas and b) holds at least 40 seats in the Senate. David Roberts, Vox, "After the midterms, US climate politics are even more polarized. Here’s how Dems can move forward.," 12 Nov. 2018 Unseating Ryan has always been something of a pipe dream for Democrats. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "Every August 14 primary election you should know about, briefly explained," 13 Aug. 2018 That's kind of pipe dream, however, he's never dealt with some like Trump before. Fox News, "How Trump differs from past presidents on North Korea," 12 June 2018 Or, for those who truly love pipe dreams, picture Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell dueling in the 2023 Finals… in Beijing. Ben Golliver, SI.com, "The Case For Moving the NBA Finals to a Neutral Site," 22 May 2018 But at the time, computational speed made the idea a pipe dream. Kevin Hartnett, WIRED, "A Classical Math Problem Gets Pulled Into Self-Driving Cars," 26 May 2018 Canadian producers may yet discover that conquering the globe is just a pipe dream. The Economist, "Canada’s cannabis firms plot world domination," 5 July 2018 Now sobered up, Hickey is trying to convince his fellow barflies to stop clinging to their pipe dreams, and Washington imbues his character with searing delusion, guilt-ridden desperation, and a hint of menace. Christopher Wallenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Picks and predictions for the Tonys," 8 June 2018 Yet even when Tuesday brought a crisis point to ABC, swift corporate action seemed like a pipe dream. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "ABC deserves applause for swiftly canning 'Roseanne' after racist tweet," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pipe dream.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of pipe dream

1890, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pipe dream

from the fantasies brought about by the smoking of opium

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pipe dream

Share pipe dream

Statistics for pipe dream

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pipe dream

The first known use of pipe dream was in 1890

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pipe dream

pipe dream


English Language Learners Definition of pipe dream

: a hope, wish, or dream that is impossible to achieve or not practical

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pipe dream

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pipe dream

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pipe dream

Spanish Central: Translation of pipe dream

Comments on pipe dream

What made you want to look up pipe dream? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!