wishful thinking


Definition of wishful thinking 

: the attribution of reality to what one wishes to be true or the tenuous justification of what one wants to believe

Examples of wishful thinking in a Sentence

The idea that the enemy will immediately surrender is nothing more than wishful thinking.

Recent Examples on the Web

This is wishful thinking, confusing what activists are hankering for with what marginal Democratic voters might want. The Economist, "Fork in the roadShould the party move to the left or to the centre?," 12 July 2018 And there are dangers of wishful thinking in believing such a world was ever successful in meeting the fundamental range of human needs — our emotional, material and intellectual needs. Brian O’connor, Time, "Why Doing Nothing Is One of the Most Important Things You Can Do," 15 June 2018 The inevitable rumors of Mike Bloomberg being interested in Fortune were swiftly swatted down, and the wishful thinking among some Fortune staffers about how Marc Benioff would make a good boss seems to be just that. Joe Pompeo, The Hive, "80 Potential Buyers, Titles for as Much as $200 Million: The Time Inc. Auction Sparks Surprising Hope for the Magazine Business," 23 May 2018 This was not merely the wishful thinking of Westerners. The Economist, "The next sunriseIdeas from abroad take time to percolate," 17 May 2018 Rekindling the love affair may be wishful thinking. Kim Severson, New York Times, "Is America Ready to Love Cottage Cheese Again?," 26 June 2018 Scenarios that pro-choice GOP senators like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski might block Trump’s nominee are wishful thinking. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "Rot on the Right, Green Shoots on the Left," 28 June 2018 That is achievable but rests on some sleight of hand and wishful thinking. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "GE’s Plan Rests on Promises and Some Sleight of Hand," 26 June 2018 After decades of working toward achieving nuclear capability, experts say, the notion of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula is likely wishful thinking. Abigail Tracy, The Hive, "“A Dog Whistle to the North Koreans”: Will Trump’s Ignorance (and Bolton’s Impetuousness) Doom the North Korea Summit?," 4 May 2018

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

1932, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for wishful thinking

The first known use of wishful thinking was in 1932

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More Definitions for wishful thinking

wishful thinking


English Language Learners Definition of wishful thinking

: an attitude or belief that something you want to happen will happen even though it is not likely or possible

More from Merriam-Webster on wishful thinking

Nglish: Translation of wishful thinking for Spanish Speakers

Comments on wishful thinking

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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