pipe dream

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See also: pipedream


Alternative forms[edit]


From the fantasies experienced when smoking an opium pipe. First attested in the 1800s; surely not a direct reflex of Old English pīpdrēam (the sound or music of a pipe).


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pipe dream (plural pipe dreams)

  1. (idiomatic) A plan, desire, or idea that will not likely work; a near impossibility.
    I think that his plan to become a professional athlete is a pipe dream and that he should stay in school.
    • 1962 December, “Dr. Beeching previews the plan for British Railways”, in Modern Railways, page 376:
      Only a year ago it would have needed a "super-Micawber" to be optimistic that the railways would once again pay their way. But it was no longer a pipe dream that B.R. could make a profit, the way to do it was now clear.
    Synonyms: castle in the air, pie in the sky