• Pertaining to an unrealistic, overdramatized concept
  • Spontaneous and unanticipated
  • (Sometimes capitalized) Referring or relating to Don Quixote


Quixotic, often capitalized, is sometimes used in reference to Don Quixote, a Spanish novel, with a utopian goal to restore faith in purely positive intentions and considerate actions. Don Quixote, the lead character of the novel, sought perfect harmony among society despite the inevitable flaw of human tendencies. In this case, Quixotic describes a person as honorably, yet unrealistically, gallant; someone who is naive and impractical with his or her purpose. Don Quixote himself is a Quixotic figure, believing he could deepen the shallow waters of other men and women.

Most commonly, quixotic is used to define fairy-tale concepts and farcical expectations. This may apply to any situation, whether it be related to a relationship, a business pursuit, or even some policy objective of your local city hall. A quixotic dinner is of 6-star quality; a date may fall short of quixotic if it fails to end in a helicopter ride; gold-plating of lampposts may be quixotic in the goal to burnish a city's image.

Something that is quixotic may also be irrational, unexpected, or impulsive. A quixotic decision is often made on the whim without a second thought of possible consequences.

Example: "The stretch limo was a bit quixotic for a first date, don't you think?" she asked him.

Example: Sharon booked a quixotic vacation to Hawaii despite her being in debt.

Example: For the medieval-themed Halloween party, Dennis sported Quixotic attire - plastic armor, a shield, and a sword.


Quixotic was derived in the eighteenth century from the 1605 Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes named Don Quixote, which tells a story of a man who loses his mind to the idea of the reformation of infallible chivalry. Don Quixote believed only in utopian concepts. A short while after the novel was published, many began using quixotic to describe people and concepts.

Derivative Words

Quixote: (noun) a person who acquires unrealistic hopes and standards.

Example: Terry is a quixote, hoping to achieve a 4.5 GPA each semester.

Quixotically: (adverb) in an extravagant, overzealous manner.

Example: He dove quixotically for the football, landing in puddle of mud.

Quixotism: a concept or practice rooting in idealism and impracticality.

Example: The students scoffed at his quixotism, though he himself practiced chivalry and respect.

In Literature

From Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman

Dr. Finch's voice softened. "It seems quixotic today, with jet airplanes and overdoses of Nembutal, that a man would go through a war for something so insignificant as his state."
He blinked. "No, Scout, those ragged ignorant people fought until they were nearly exterminated to maintain something that these days seems to be the sole privilege of artists and musicians."

Here Lee uses quixotic to describe war as an absurd notion, perhaps only undertaken by ignorant people.

From Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels

The man made a sweeping, quixotic bow, nearly falling from the horse.

Here, quixotic describes the man's bow to be over-dramatic and extravagant, causing him to lose his balance.


  • Let's travel somewhere extravagantly exotic, be a bit quixotic.
  • Date at Sonic: Not quixotic.


Don Quixote, Fairy-tale, Chivalry, Romance

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of quixotic. Did you use quixotic in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.