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Quixotic describes something or someone as wishful to the point of foolishness. This person or thing is often engaged in achieving ideals or impossible tasks.

The word comes from a book titled The ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The main character, Don Quixote, imagines himself a knight and sets out to right wrongs. His world is completely imaginary and he begins by asking an innkeeper to dub him a knight. Of course, all the wrongs he rights are not actually righted and he ends up returning home in ruins.

In the original work Quixote is pronounced (key ho tay). However, quixotic is pronounced  /kwɪkˈsɒtɪk/ (kwix-ah-tic).

There are rarely seen adjective and adverb forms, quixotical and quixotically, respectively.


This quixotic juggling of the personal and the socio-historical has delighted some but infuriated others, especially within the M25 or the home counties. [Guardian]

More than a quarter of a century ago a small band of pro-devolution Scottish Conservatives embarked upon a quixotic attempt to make their party see sense. [Herald Scotland]

Mansfield’s radio employer has been running a quixotic campaign to get Mansfield back at the Ten news desk for a one-night-only guest-reading slot on August 1. [Sydney Morning Herald]

“I have safely moved up from a quixotical quest, shot right past longshot and now I’m into underdog territory.” [The Tennessean]

Among those who will be happy to see Mitt Romney launch another campaign (along with any other well-funded candidate who wants to follow him, however quixotically, into the 2016 primary field) are the otherwise impartial Republican National Committee staffers overseeing new investments in the party’s national voter file. [Bloomberg Politics]