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

In 1995, Iacocca joined with investor Kerkorian in a quixotic bid to take over Chrysler, sharply criticizing the automaker and accusing it of refusing to honor his options on more than 100,000 shares of stock. Donald Woutat, latimes.com, "Lee Iacocca, father of the Ford Mustang who later rescued Chrysler, dies at 94," 2 July 2019 The first of the final five to go was Rory Stewart, the international-development secretary, who ran a campaign that seemed thoughtful, scrappy, and disruptive but, in a Tory contest, may merely have been quixotic. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Here Comes Boris Johnson!," 21 June 2019 But the tactic of refusing to pay one’s bills until the state delivers on its promises, which may seem quixotic to Westerners, might catch on in Russia. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Russians embrace Soviet ideals – by not paying their gas bills," 30 Jan. 2019 Some of the nastier attacks on Biden’s quixotic quest have built from that reality (including some mockery from Donald Trump, Jr.). Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Google, Pharma Giant Sanofi Team Up to Discover Drugs: Brainstorm Health," 19 June 2019 In this quixotic tale illustrated by Jennifer Thermes, not one of the Swedes survives, but Freya and Zoose become excellent friends. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Taking to the Sky," 25 Jan. 2019 At first, his quest to overthrow the government whose leaders have ruled Armenia since the 1990s felt quixotic. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Armenian Parliament elects opposition leader as prime minister," 8 May 2018 At first, his quest to overthrow the government whose leaders have ruled Armenia since the 1990s felt quixotic. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Armenian Parliament elects opposition leader as prime minister," 8 May 2018 Like Polonius's observation of Hamlet's unhinged ramblings, a reader could view McEwan's latest work as such a quixotic attempt. Liz Matthews, Town & Country, "Ian McEwan's 'Nutshell' is a Modern-Day 'Hamlet'," 28 Sep. 2016

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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Dictionary Entries near quixotic


qui vive






Statistics for quixotic

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

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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

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on quixotic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quixotic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quixotic

Spanish Central: Translation of quixotic

Nglish: Translation of quixotic for Spanish Speakers

Comments on quixotic

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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