Pie in the sky

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Pie in the sky describes something that is falsely optimistic, a promise of something good happening in the future that is very unlikely to actually take place. The phrase pie in the sky was coined by Joe Hill in 1911, in a parody of a Salvation Army hymn. Hill was an adherent of a radical labor organization, the Wobblies. His lyrics in the parody hymn The Preacher and the Slave criticized the Salvation Army’s concern with saving souls rather than feeding hungry people. The term pie in the sky became popular during the Great Depression of the 1930s, to describe a happy future or something good happening in the future that was unlikely to come to pass. Pie in the sky is an American idiom. When used before a noun as a modifier, the phrase is hyphenated as in pie-in-the-sky.


The Government appears to have avoided the “typical pie in the sky” pre-election Budget, the Chamber of Commerce’s chairman said yesterday, while conceding: “The numbers may tell a different story.” (The Barbados Tribune)

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann went on the attack last night over Mr Shorten’s statements by warning that he was making “pie in the sky” promises on health funding and would “put the people smugglers back in business” even though he talked tough on border protection. (The Australian)

“A lot of the talk is pie in the sky,” said Michael Leigh, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund in the United States and an expert on gas discoveries in the East Mediterranean. (Reuters)

And here I am acting like one of those pie-in-the-sky leftists, writing about an LGBT magazine that comes out in Arabic in Jordan, as if before you know it we’ll surely see Islamic State tanks rolling through the Iraqi desert waving rainbow flags. (Haaretz)