What does the expression "tilting at windmills" mean...?
- 1 decade agoBest Answer
Refers to engaging in a futile activity or attacking imaginary enemies. Tilting - as in jousting - at windmills is an expression derived from the novel El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, where the main character of Don Quixote fights windmills that he imagines to be giants.
- ConnieLv 61 decade ago
quote from source:
Meaning: Attacking imaginary enemies.
Origin: tilting at windmills
Tilting is jousting. 'Tilting at windmills' derives from Cervantes' Don Quixote - first published in 1604, under the title The Ingenious Knight of La Mancha. The novel recounts the exploits of would-be knight 'Don Quixote' and his loyal servant Sancho Panza who propose to fight injustice through chivalry. It is considered one of the major literary masterpieces and remains a best seller in numerous translations. In the book, which also gives us the adjective quixotic (striving for visionary ideals), the eponymous hero imagines himself to be fighting giants when he attacks windmills.
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- 1 decade ago
Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means "attacking imaginary enemies." The word “tilt,” here, means “fight.” This idiomatic phrase originated in the novel Don Quixote, and is often used today in reference to persistent engagement in a futile activity. At one point in the novel, Don Quixote fights windmills that he imagines to be giants. Quixote sees the windmill blades as the giant's arms, for instance. Here is the relevant portion of the novel:
Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."
"What giants?" asked Sancho Panza.
"Those you see over there," replied his master, "with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length."
"Take care, sir," cried Sancho. "Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone."
- chocolahomaLv 71 decade ago
It goes all the way back to Cervantes' novel Don Quixote, first published in 1605.
The point of the story is that an aging gentleman, obsessed with stories of Knights and chivalry, comes slightly unglued and decides to become a wandering Knight himself.
He saddles up his broken down old horse, acquires a local oaf as a "squire" and sets out to battle dragons and rescue maidens and such.
At one point, he rides up upon a series of windmills, such as they had in central Spain at the time. In his fevered imagination, he imagines the windmills are Giants, and attempts to attack them with his lance.
Of course, he falls on his butt. He becomes convinced that a Wizard changed the giants into windmills to thwart his attack.
"Tilting at Windmills" has become a short-hand reference to this episode. It means that someone has taken up a hopeless cause.
- Anonymous4 years ago
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- VidaLv 44 years ago
expression tilting windmills