adjective1 : foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals 2 : capricious, unpredictable
Pauline characterized her Halloween decorating plans as ambitious, but she secretly feared that “quixotic” was a more apt descriptor.
“David Smith has chased for at least 15 years what seemed a quixotic challenge—finding a way to harness the energy remaining in discarded batteries which could represent at least 50 percent of their power capacity.” — Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina), September 28, 2014
Did you know?
If you guessed that quixotic has something to do with Don Quixote, you’re absolutely right. The hero of the 17th-century Spanish novel El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (by Miguel de Cervantes) didn’t change the world by tilting at windmills, but he did leave a linguistic legacy in English. The adjective quixotic is based on his name and has been used to describe unrealistic idealists since at least the early 18th century. The novel has given English other words as well. Dulcinea, the name of Quixote’s beloved, has come to mean “mistress” or “sweetheart,” and rosinante, which is sometimes used to refer to an old, broken-down horse, comes from the name of the hero’s less-than-gallant steed, Rocinante.