Word of the Week Wednesday: Quixotic

This week’s word is: Quixotic

Quixotic means impractically optimistic or romantic.  Obviously, it comes from the character in the novel Don Quixote by Cervantes.

What I like about this word, in addition to being worth 26 points in Scrabble, is the way the pronunciation changes from the Spanish [key-ho-tay] to [kwik-sot-ic].

It also makes me think, through a series of associations, of one of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants.  Coincidentally, much of their music has an impractically fantastical feel to it.

They are quoted as saying they chose the name because they wanted something “that sounded both forward thinking and paranoid .”

The name was actually taken from the 1971 movie starring George C. Scott where he plays a man who believes that he’s Sherlock Holmes.  There’s a scene in the movie where he is discussing the nature of delusions and possibilities, claiming that while Quixote would be delusional for believing that windmills were actually evil giants, it was not a delusion to believe that they might be giants.

This type of distinction appeals to me, to my life-long love of fantasy and to the essential optimism of my nature.

I think this world view is well represented by a famous quote attributed to Robert F. Kennedy:

“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”


Don’t forget there’s still time to enter this week’s Table Topics Thursday contest and win yourself a coveted “Tabley”.  Extra points for using quixotic in your answer.



About Dan Kingsepp, ACS, ALS
I'm starting this blog to share my thought on the use of the English language and my experiences as a Toastmaster.

2 Responses to Word of the Week Wednesday: Quixotic

  1. Pingback: Table Topics Thursday: Topic 4 | On Language

  2. Pingback: Word of the Week Wednesday: Pyrrhic Victory | On Language

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