“Battling imaginary giants for the good of mankind, Don Quixote was the original quixotic character.”

Based on what’s shown above, what is the best definition of quixotic?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Widely recognized as a saint or hero
Choice B - Arrogant or snobbish towards others
Choice C - Capricious or acting on whims
Choice D - Idealistic but often impractical


Quixotic (adjective) – idealistic and unrealistic to the point of foolishness; or, striving for visionary ideals

Quixoticism (noun) – the impractical pursuit of ideals above all else

GRE pro tips:

Quixotic first became a term following the publication of the Cervantes novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha. The satiric tale follows the adventures of an ordinary Spanish man called Don Quixote who dreams up an imaginary world in which he wanders the land attempting to right wrongs. Although his intentions are always noble, he is often foolish and irrational. For instance, Quixote imagines he restores justice by battling giants when, in reality, he is jousting windmills.

The adjective quixotic can be applied broadly to describe people who are striving for lofty and visionary ideals of any kind. But many times (as in Quixote’s case), people who are said to be quixotic are often unrealistic and impractical and even foolish in their commitment to their ideals. Perhaps you can remember quixotic as quick to act without a practical plan.  

Example sentences:

“When the airline mogul announced plans for developing a utopian community on the moon, many observers called the vision quixotic and some found it absurd.”

“Few took me seriously when I declared my quixotic intentions to complete the upcoming marathon – I’d never trained and wasn’t exactly athletic.”