quixotic

adjective
quix·​ot·​ic | \ kwik-ˈsä-tik How to pronounce quixotic (audio) \

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 How to pronounce quixotical (audio) \ adjective
quixotically \ kwik-​ˈsä-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce quixotically (audio) \ 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 Tom Rickhoff, after deciding to step away from the probate court bench, launched a quixotic, bare-bones campaign for county judge against Nelson Wolff and lost by nearly 20 percentage points. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Garcia: Rickhoff brothers face concerns about potential conflict of interest," 17 June 2020 As a non-designer, Caplan had an ability to explain design to a wide audience minus the quixotic jargon of the trade. Anne Quito, Quartz, "Design critic Ralph Caplan saw the 1960s lunch counter sit-in as the era’s greatest design," 13 June 2020 Satirists and editorial cartoonists had a field day lampooning Greeley’s quixotic campaign and rejoicing in his utter defeat. John Strausbaugh, National Review, "Horace Greeley’s Ill-Fated Crusades," 19 Dec. 2019 That lines up, however, with Amash's often quixotic stands rooted in constitutional principle if not political realities. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "Could an Amash candidacy help Trump get reelected? Some Trump critics think so," 29 Apr. 2020 His output is too quixotic, too personal, to be transferrable as a style in the manner of de Kooning or Rauschenberg. Susan Tallman, The New York Review of Books, "The Master of Unknowing," 25 Apr. 2020 The world of politics is filled with messy local races, acrimonious small-town battles, contested elections and quixotic campaigns. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Why This Ex-Con Mayor Is Running Away From Reporters," 6 Oct. 2019 Initially, many political analysts dismissed his campaign as a quixotic venture that would go nowhere. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Importance of Bernie Sanders and Socialism," 10 Apr. 2020 Dissatisfied with recapturing Brooklyn’s past in miniature, however, Mr. Kennedy soon enlarged his ambitions by many orders of magnitude, embarking on a quixotic quest to build a one-quarter-scale replica of Ebbets Field to house a Dodgers museum. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, "A Brooklyn Dodgers Fan Who Never Gave Up on Ebbets Field," 27 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for quixotic

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The first known use of quixotic was in 1718

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Last Updated

20 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quixotic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quixotic. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for quixotic

quixotic

adjective
How to pronounce quixotic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of quixotic

formal : hopeful or romantic in a way that is not practical

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More from Merriam-Webster on quixotic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quixotic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quixotic

Spanish Central: Translation of quixotic

Nglish: Translation of quixotic for Spanish Speakers

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