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Dec 21, 2010
This week's theme
No el

This week's words
katzenjammer
quixotic
divagate
nyctophobia
frowsty

Monument to Miguel de Cervantes, Madrid, Spain
Monument to Miguel de Cervantes, Madrid, Spain
In the foreground are sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
Photo: MarioM

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

quixotic

PRONUNCIATION:
(qwik-SOT-ik)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Absurdly chivalrous, idealistic, or impractical.
2. Impulsive, unpredictable.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Don Quixote, hero of the eponymous novel by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). Earliest documented use: 1718.

NOTES:
Cervantes's novel has given us another idiom, tilting at windmills: fighting with imaginary or invincible opponents. In the novel, Don Quixote perceives windmills in the distance as giants and proceeds to attack them. The word tilt here is a synonym for joust.

USAGE:
"Mr. Light is a gift to his community, a Robin Hood of an electrician who fiddles the meters for customers too poor to pay, and a quixotic visionary with a homemade windmill in his backyard."
Kate Taylor; The Light Thief (movie review); The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); Nov 18, 2010.

See more usage examples of quixotic in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever. -Anatole France, novelist, essayist, Nobel laureate (1844-1924)

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