quix·​ot·​ic | \kwik-ˈsä-tik \

Definition of quixotic 

1 : foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals especially : marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action

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Other Words from quixotic

quixotical \ kwik-​ˈsä-​ti-​kəl \ adjective
quixotically \ kwik-​ˈsä-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for quixotic

imaginary, fanciful, visionary, fantastic, chimerical, quixotic mean unreal or unbelievable. imaginary applies to something which is fictitious and purely the product of one's imagination. an imaginary desert isle fanciful suggests the free play of the imagination. a teller of fanciful stories visionary stresses impracticality or incapability of realization. visionary schemes fantastic implies incredibility or strangeness beyond belief. a fantastic world inhabited by monsters chimerical combines the implication of visionary and fantastic. chimerical dreams of future progress quixotic implies a devotion to romantic or chivalrous ideals unrestrained by ordinary prudence and common sense. a quixotic crusade

Quixotic Has Roots in Literature

If you guessed that quixotic has something to do with Don Quixote, you're absolutely right. The hero of the 17th-century Spanish novel El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (by Miguel de Cervantes) didn't change the world by tilting at windmills, but he did leave a linguistic legacy in English. The adjective quixotic is based on his name and has been used to describe unrealistic idealists since at least the early 18th century. The novel has given English other words as well. Dulcinea, the name of Quixote's beloved, has come to mean mistress or sweetheart, and rosinante, which is sometimes used to refer to an old, broken-down horse, comes from the name of the hero's less-than-gallant steed.

Examples of quixotic in a Sentence

In … an earnest book-length essay of neo-Victorian public-mindedness that deplores the "nasty, knowing abuse" that the author would have us fear contaminates too much American humor lately, David Denby, a movie critic for The New Yorker, sets for himself what has to be one of the most quixotic projects that a moral reformer can undertake. — Walter Kirn, New York Times Book Review, 22 Feb. 2009 The history of biblical oil prospecting is filled with quixotic quests and colorful characters, starting with Welsie Hancock, a wealthy California man who in the 1960s dreamed that Jesus told him he would find black gold in the Holy Land. He sunk his entire fortune into two dry holes. — Mariah Blake, Mother Jones, January and February 2008 Mumey had announced his candidacy as an independent in the partisan election, which meant that he needed 2,300 signatures of registered voters in order to get on the ballot in the fall. It seemed a quixotic adventure, given the small size of Celebration and Mumey's lack of name recognition outside the town. — Douglas Frantz et al., Celebration, USA, 1999 They had quixotic dreams about the future. in this age of giant chain stores, any attempt at operating an independent bookstore must be regarded as quixotic
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Recent Examples on the Web

At times the soft-spoken, bespectacled former prosecutor’s effort to get that message out has seemed quixotic in a Washington engulfed by questions about whether the president’s associates colluded with Russia. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Rod Rosenstein Sees Crime-Fighting as Justice’s Overlooked Strong Suit," 19 Oct. 2018 The king's project of training future leaders for the Middle East also seems quixotic at a time when dynastic regimes all over the region are being challenged by popular revolutions. Richard Mcgill Murphy, Town & Country, "Desert Prep," 17 Dec. 2012 This makes an exhibition that questions established notions of borders and citizenship a little quixotic and a lot subversive. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "A new U.S.-Mexico border? At the Venice Biennale, imagining a binational region called MEXUS," 23 May 2018 Yet plugging leaks has proven to be a quixotic quest for the president. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "‘We will find out who they are!’ Trump says of leakers. He hasn’t had much luck.," 15 May 2018 The Jets’ quixotic quest for the next Joe Namath led them to use the No. Ben Shpigel, New York Times, "Giants Select Saquon Barkley; Jets Choose Sam Darnold," 26 Apr. 2018 Harley-Davidson's electric motorcycle dreams still seem a bit quixotic at the moment -- and a diversion from the real problem of reversing sliding sales. Rich Duprey, USA TODAY, "Harley-Davidson going all-in on electric motorcycles," 14 Mar. 2018 Yet the notion that a do-over on Brexit would come about because of the pleas of a French intellectual — or Brussels Eurocrats or wealthy outsiders or European newspaper columnists — seems quixotic at best. William Booth And James Mcauley, Washington Post, "Europeans haven’t given up hope that Britain will change its mind on Brexit," 12 June 2018 Both Newsom and the Trump White House hope that Republican John Cox, a businessman who lost three elections in Illinois (and a quixotic presidential bid) before moving to California, will win the second slot. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "8 primaries: Results roll in for key House, Senate races," 5 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of quixotic

1718, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for quixotic

Don Quixote

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Statistics for quixotic

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for quixotic

The first known use of quixotic was in 1718

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English Language Learners Definition of quixotic

: hopeful or romantic in a way that is not practical

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