Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fantastic notion or vain hope.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A plan, desire, or idea that will not likely work; a near impossibility.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a fantastic but vain hope (from fantasies induced by the opium pipe)

Etymologies

From the fantasies induced by smoking a pipe of opium.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the fantasies experienced when smoking an opium pipe. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • They were having this freewheeling political discussion and I was looking around thinking, I despise everybody in this room, as Israelite spoke feverishly about their pipe dream to recruit retired general Norman Schwarzkopf to run as a Republican for the Senate in Florida.

    How to Rig an Election

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