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Quixotism (\'kwik-ˈsä-tism\) means engaging in foolish impracticality in pursuit of ideals ; especially : those ideals manifested by rash, lofty and romantic ideas; or extravagantly chivalrous action. It also serves to describe an idealism without regard to practicality. An impulsive person or act might be regarded as quixotic.

Quixotism is usually related to "over-idealism", meaning an idealism that doesn't take consequence or absurdity into account. It is also related to naïve romanticism and to utopianism.


Quixotism as a term or a quality appeared after the publication of El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha in 1605. The hero of this novel, that is written by the Spanishmarker author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, dreams up a romantic ideal world which he believes to be real, and acts on this idealism, which most famously leads him into imaginary fights with windmills that he regards as giant.

Already in the 17th century the term Quixote was used to describe a person that does not distinguish between reality and imagination. The poet John Cleveland wrote in 1644, in his book The character of a London diurnall:
"The Quixotes of this Age fight with the Wind-mills of their owne Heads"

The word Quixotism is mentioned, for the first time, in Pulpit Popery, True Popery (1688):
"All the Heroical Fictions of Ecclesiastical Quixotism"


"At worst his scruples must have been quixotic, not malicious" (Louis Auchincloss)

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