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 But the idea in Washington — expressed most clearly last week by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) — that new elections, and Netanyahu’s possible ouster, would dramatically shift Israel’s approach to Gaza and the Palestinians may be wishful thinking. William Booth, Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2024 Or maybe this was just wishful thinking, my desire for a story with a taste of freedom in it. Carina Del Valle Schorske, New York Times, 20 Mar. 2024 What the state had sued over wasn’t a few mistakes by otherwise well-meaning people without a sophisticated business background, or a little bit of wishful thinking in estimating properties. Erik Sherman, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 The idea that Haley could emerge as the alternate at the Republican convention if Trump is toppled by his legal woes is wishful thinking, strategists told USA TODAY. USA TODAY, 15 Feb. 2024 Given their recent track records, that might be wishful thinking. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, 11 Feb. 2024 Free flights for life, though, are more wishful thinking than aviation fact. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, 16 Jan. 2024 Maybe that was the top of the China narrative, as domestic issues are what people really care about—likely wishful thinking. Brendan Ahern, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 This is a form of wishful thinking—perhaps as naive as invading countries to liberate them—and ought to be recognized as such. Stephen Wertheim, Foreign Affairs, 14 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wishful thinking.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1932, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of wishful thinking was in 1932

Dictionary Entries Near wishful thinking

Cite this Entry

“Wishful thinking.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wishful%20thinking. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on wishful thinking

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!