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 Local leaders said that surge was driven by denialism, wishful thinking around herd immunity and misinformation spread by President Trump, who in 2016 carried some precincts in these neighborhoods with more than 80 percent of the vote. New York Times, "Fearing 2nd Wave, N.Y.C. Will Adopt Restrictions in Hard-Hit Areas," 4 Oct. 2020 Every theory should be explored, but wishful thinking isn’t sound policy. Scott Gottlieb And Yuval Levin, WSJ, "The Trump Coronavirus Spread," 4 Oct. 2020 But there is plenty of wishful thinking in these words. The Economist, "Acrimony across the Pacific A hostile meeting sets the tone for US-China relations," 20 Mar. 2021 Any wishful thinking was pretty much dashed immediately. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Bulls rush back into tech and Bitcoin as yields cool off," 9 Mar. 2021 But with uniform accreditation processes leading to isomorphic results, meaningful differentiation among elite four-year institutions remains wishful thinking. Ryan Craig, Forbes, "Fear And Loathing In Lottery Admissions," 5 Mar. 2021 As always, critical thinking must be prioritized over wishful thinking. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy face a pivotal 2 months to reboot the Chicago Bears. And they must put critical thinking ahead of wishful thinking.," 3 Mar. 2021 Many experts fell victim to wishful thinking or denial, said Dr. Nicole Lurie, who served as assistant secretary for preparedness and response during the Obama administration. Liz Szabo, Los Angeles Times, "Many U.S. health experts underestimated the coronavirus — until it was too late," 21 Dec. 2020 It’s my personal belief that our unaddressed grief is emerging not only in numbness, paralysis, denial, outrage and wishful thinking, but in skyrocketing rates of addiction, domestic violence, murder and public destruction of property. Katy Butler, WSJ, "Covid Is Reshaping Death. And Maybe Life.," 16 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for wishful thinking

Time Traveler

The first known use of wishful thinking was in 1932

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Statistics for wishful thinking

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wishful thinking.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wishful%20thinking. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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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

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