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 With him now in Portland, is there anyone left in Anchorage that combines his mixture of humanism, flair for the dramatic and quixotic inclinations? David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "How Michael O’Callaghan went from Anchorage activist to Portland’s homeless mayoral candidate," 9 Mar. 2020 Nehru’s India historically prided itself as a quixotic vanguard of the Nonaligned Movement, frequently subordinating its own geopolitical interests to ethereal notions of anticolonial, Third World brotherhood. WSJ, "Modi Is Transforming India’s Foreign Affairs," 8 Mar. 2020 The problem with the quixotic search for virality is that triumph depends on the algorithmic perversions of the social media platform. Dan Pfeiffer, Wired, "Wake Up, Democrats! Memes Matter in the Race to 2020," 18 Feb. 2020 Sanders was 36 and had already lost two quixotic campaigns for governor of Vermont when Annie Hall came out, was mayor of Burlington by the time Zelig hit the big screen. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, "To Dream of a Jewish President," 13 Feb. 2020 Bonello has explored the quixotic nature of youth before, most forcefully in 2016’s Nocturama, about teens who camp out in a shopping mall after setting off bombs around Paris. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "‘Zombi Child’ auteur Bertrand Bonello on colonialism, French trap music, and a ‘cinema of fear’," 23 Jan. 2020 Macron’s most quixotic endeavor, though, may be his effort to win over Russia — and win over Europe to the idea of reassessing its relationship with Moscow. Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, "While Washington is checked out, Macron is pushing to lead the Western world," 28 Sep. 2019 Both Stanton and Sharlet owe a debt to August Sander, the German photographer who undertook the quixotic quest of People of the Twentieth Century, a catalog of all human types of his time. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Jeff Sharlet’s Flawed Experiment in Empathy," 11 Feb. 2020 Intercontinental Exchange, owner of the New York Stock Exchange, abandoned its quixotic quest to buy eBay. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "The old guard of media is earning enough money to make startups drool," 10 Feb. 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of quixotic was in 1718

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Last Updated

20 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quixotic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quixotic. Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for quixotic


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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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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