utopian (adj.)

1550s, with reference to More's fictional country; 1610s as "extravagantly ideal, impossibly visionary," from utopia + -an. As a noun meaning "visionary idealist" it is recorded by 1832 (also in this sense was utopiast, 1845). Utopian socialism is from 1849, originally pejorative, in reference to the Paris uprising of 1848; also a dismissive term in communist jargon, in reference to the ideas of Fourier, St. Simon, and Owen, "the pre-scientific and infantile stage" of modern, practical socialism.

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"the southern Pacific islands and Australia, conceived as a continent," 1849, Modern Latin, from French Océanie (c. 1812). Apparently coined by Danish geographer Conrad Malte-Brun (1755-1826). Earlier in English as Oceanica (1832). Oceania was the name of one of the superstates in Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Oceanea was the name of James Harrington's 17c. ideal state, and the name later was applied to the British empire. Related: Oceanean.

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theoretical (adj.)
1610s, "contemplative," with -al (1) + Late Latin theoreticus "of or pertaining to theory," from Greek theoretikos "contemplative, speculative, pertaining to theory" (by Aristotle contrasted to praktikos), from theoretos "that may be seen or considered," from theorein "to consider, look at" (see theory). Meaning "pertaining to theory, making deductions from theory not from fact" (opposed to practical) is from 1650s; earlier in this sense was theorical (c. 1500). Meaning "ideal, hypothetical" is from 1790s (implied in theoretically). Related: theoretician.
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also laissez faire, 1822, French, literally "let (people) do (as they think best)," from laissez, second person plural imperative of laisser "to let, to leave" (10c., from Latin laxare, from laxus "loose;" see lax) + faire "to do" (from Latin facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). From the phrase laissez faire et laissez passer, motto of certain 18c. French economists, chosen to express the ideal of government non-interference in business and industry. Compare laisser-faire "a letting alone," taken to mean "non-interference with individual freedom of action" as a policy in government and political economy.
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princess (n.)

late 14c., "woman of royal or noble birth; daughter or wife of a ruler or prince; female ruler," a native formation; in some later instances from Old French princesse, fem. of prince (see prince). Compare Medieval Latin principissa, Italian principessa.

As a colloquial form of address to a woman or girl, it is recorded by 1924 (as a term of address to a lover, early 15c.). Princesse lointaine "ideal but unattainable woman" (literally "distant princess") is from the play by Rostand (1895) based on troubadour themes.

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ivory tower (n.)

symbol of artistic or intellectual aloofness, by 1889, from French tour d'ivoire, used in 1837 by critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) with reference to the poet Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863), whom he accused of excessive aloofness.

Et Vigny, plus secret, comme en sa tour d'ivoire, avant midi rentrait. [Sainte-Beuve, "Pensées d'Août, à M. Villemain," 1837]

Used earlier as a type of a wonder or a symbol of "the ideal." The literal image is perhaps from Song of Solomon [vii:4]:

Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus. [KJV]
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idealistic (adj.)
"striving after perfect good," 1819; see idealist + -ic. Related: Idealistically.
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romantic (adj.)

1650s, "of the nature of a literary romance, partaking of the heroic or marvelous," from French romantique "pertaining to romance," from romant "a romance," an oblique case or variant of Old French romanz "verse narrative" (see romance (n.)).

Of places, "characterized by poetic or inspiring scenery," by 1705. As a literary style, opposed to classical (q.v.) since before 1812; it was used of schools of poetry in Germany (late 18c.) and later France. In music, "characterized by expression of feeling more than formal methods of composition," from 1885. Meaning "characteristic of an ideal love affair" (such as usually formed the subject of literary romances) is from 1660s. Meaning "having a love affair as a theme" is from 1960. Related: Romantical (1670s); romantically; romanticality. Compare romanticism.

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pigeon-hole (n.)

also pigeonhole, 1570s as "a small recess for pigeons to nest in," from pigeon + hole (n.); later "hole in a dovecote for pigeons to pass in and out" (1680s). Extended meaning "a little compartment or division in a writing desk," etc. is from 1680s, based on resemblance. Hence, "an ideal compartment for classification of persons, etc." (by 1879). The verb is from 1840, "place or file away in a pigeon-hole." The figurative sense of "lay aside for future consideration" is by 1854, that of "label mentally" by 1870.

[Y]ou will have an inspector after you with note-book and ink-horn, and you will be booked and pigeon-holed for further use when wanted. ["Civilisation—The Census," Blackwood's Magazine, Oct. 1854]

Related: Pigeonholed.

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quixotic (adj.)

of persons, "extravagantly chivalrous, absurdly romantic," abstractly, "striving for an unattainable or impractical ideal," 1791, from Don Quixote, the romantic, impractical hero of Cervantes' satirical novel "Don Quixote de la Mancha" (1605; in English translation by 1620). Don Quixote as the type of anyone attempting the impossible or holding visionary but impossible ideals is in English from 1670s.

His name literally means "thigh," also "a cuisse" (a piece of armor for the thigh), in Modern Spanish quijote, from Latin coxa "hip" (see coxa). Related: Quixotical; quixotically.

Cervantes smiled Spain's chivalry away;
     A single laugh demolish'd the right arm
Of his own country; — seldom since that day
     Has Spain had heroes. 

[Byron, "Don Juan"]
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