adjective, often capitalized
uto·pi·an | \yu̇-ˈtō-pē-ən \

Definition of utopian 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a utopia especially : having impossibly ideal conditions especially of social organization

2 : proposing or advocating impractically ideal social and political schemes utopian idealists

3 : impossibly ideal : visionary recognised the utopian nature of his hopes— C. S. Kilby

4 : believing in, advocating, or having the characteristics of utopian socialism utopian doctrines utopian novels



Definition of utopian (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one who believes in the perfectibility of human society

2 : one who proposes or advocates utopian schemes

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Synonyms & Antonyms for utopian

Synonyms: Adjective

idealist, idealistic, quixotic, romantic, starry-eyed, visionary

Synonyms: Noun

dreamer, idealist, romantic, visionary

Antonyms: Adjective

clear-eyed, clear-sighted

Antonyms: Noun

pragmatist, realist

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Did You Know?

In 1516 Thomas More published Utopia, a description of a fictional island in the Atlantic with an ideal society, in order to draw a sharp contrast with the disorderly political situation of his own time. He created the name from topos ("place") and ou, Greek for "no", since he was well aware that nowhere so perfect was likely to exist on earth. People have long dreamed of creating utopian communities; some of them have joined communes, societies where other idealists like themselves have chosen to live in a cooperative way according to certain principles. Not just communes but plans of all kinds have been labeled utopian by critics. But we can dream, can't we?

Examples of utopian in a Sentence


a plan to revitalize the city's decaying downtown that proved to be overly ambitious and utopian


in the 19th century utopians founded a number of short-lived socialist communities

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Whether this sounds utopian or dystopian is a matter of perspective. Beth Kowitt, Fortune, "How Amazon Is Using Whole Foods in a Bid for Total Retail Domination," 21 May 2018 In Vienna, Polanyi had heard socialism dismissed as utopian, on the ground that no central authority could efficiently manage millions of different wishes, resources, and capabilities. Caleb Crain, The New Yorker, "Is Capitalism a Threat to Democracy?," 7 May 2018 Erotic, ecstatic, infinite Kusama's art is erotic, utopian, ecstatic, somber at times and all-around deeply engaging. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Kusama's 'Infinity Mirrors' tickets plan set by Cleveland Museum of Art," 24 Feb. 2018 Now, in 2018, the familiar techno-utopian pronouncements of the 1990s and ’00s seem not just wrong but like a bad joke. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "The internet was supposed to save democracy. I asked 4 tech optimists what went wrong.," 8 June 2018 The roots of the Memorial for Peace and Justice lie in the post-utopian 1970s, in contemporary earth works and site-specific installations that combined Minimalist abstraction and scale with a Conceptualist capacity for political metaphor. New York Times, "A Memorial to the Lingering Horror of Lynching," 1 June 2018 His restaurant-slash-utopian-community TMIP, on another farm, in Michigan City, Ind., was shut down over permitting issues after a little more than a week. Devra First, BostonGlobe.com, "What’s on the menu at Falmouth’s Buffalo Jump? ‘Weird food that only weirdos like’," 11 July 2018 Back in the '90s all of us were utopian about the internet. Adam Fisher, WIRED, "Sex, Beer, and Coding: Inside Facebook’s Wild Early Days," 10 July 2018 Eventually, the utopian community disbanded and Harris returned to New York, leaving the entire estate — about 2,000 acres — to Nagasawa. Melissa Hung /, NBC News, "Fires burned the legacy of California's historic 'wine king.' This winery wants to rebuild it.," 7 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Then there were all those annoying Tolstoyans—vegetarians, fruit-juice drinkers, utopians of every stripe—her husband encouraged to hang around the house. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "Your Spouse Is No Prize? Maybe You Deserve a Nobel," 11 May 2018 For now, the local government seems receptive toward the crypto utopians; the governor will speak at their blockchain summit conference, called Puerto Crypto, in March. Nellie Bowles, New York Times, "Making a Crypto Utopia in Puerto Rico," 2 Feb. 2018 There have always been plenty of intellectuals and other utopians who ignore this basic truth, of course. Elliot Kaufman, National Review, "Earth to Senator Murphy: Politics Won’t Solve All of Our Problems," 28 July 2017 Digital nomadism, as an update to both the old hippie trail and get-rich-quick fantasies, unsurprisingly attracts dreamers and utopians, people prone to feelings of betrayal by those who don’t live up to their own ideals. Benjamin Wallace, Daily Intelligencer, "The Culthopping Twins Who Have Been Evangelicals, Rappers, and Digital Nomads," 12 July 2017 But if the techno-utopians get carried away in their exuberance, Taplin sometimes veers too far in the other direction. Emily Parker, Orange County Register, "‘Move Fast’ an eye-opening look at real cost of pirated music," 15 May 2017 For years, technologists and other utopians have argued that online news would be a boon to democracy. Farhad Manjoo, New York Times, "How the Internet Is Loosening Our Grip on the Truth," 2 Nov. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'utopian.' 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 utopian


1551, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1873, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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23 Sep 2018

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