will-o'-the-wisp


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Related to will-o'-the-wisp: ball lightning

will-o'-the-wisp

1. A unrealistic, unattainable, or delusional hope or goal. The mobile phone market has proven a will-o'-the-wisp for the giant tech company, despite the huge amount of resources they've poured into staking their claim in it. As we've seen time and time again, attempting to change or repeal the amendment will forever be a will-o'-the-wisp.
2. A person or thing that is or seems to be fleeting, intangible, or illusory. The president's stance on the issue has been something of a will-o'-the wisp, seeming to change or disappear entirely as the political climate dictates. The linebacker has been a will-o'-the-wisp all evening, appearing seemingly out of nowhere to deliver bone-rattling tackles.

will o' the wisp

An unattainable goal. Will o' the wisp is one of the names of the marsh gas phenomenon that causes lights suddenly to appear and disappear over swampy ground (ignis fatuus is another term). Trying to catch a will o' the wisp is impossible, much like trying to catch lightning in a bottle, and so the phrase came to mean anything that can't be done.
See also: will, wisp
References in periodicals archive ?
Like computer-based artificial intelligence, it may turn out to be a will-o'-the-wisp, at least as currently conceived.
Life is a will-o'-the-wisp, a fortunate escape, grinding hardship for an evanescent reward--what avails, if terror retains the upper hand?
"Will-o'-the-wisp: HIPAA privacy regulations are in place but not set in stone." Modern Physician, 5 (8), May 2001, pg.
A will-o'-the-wisp on her way to San Francisco, perchance, with that flower in her hair?
It seems in the realm of probability that he was searching for a will-o'-the-wisp while claiming to seek something else.
The non-well-foundedness he points to is, for Dummett, the flaw in Frege's execution of an inspired scheme, one that promised a noncircular warrant for accepting the core infinite ontologies of arithmetic and analysis; for Boolos, the non-well-foundedness is just what higher-order logic is like, and the ambition just mentioned a patent will-o'-the-wisp. (As emerges from comparison with Thiel's paper, the difference can equally well be viewed as one regarding impredicativity.
Unlike Grandin and Goldman, they are still unaware that it was their historical duty to pay the price that civilians always pay for irregular warfare, as sitting-duck surrogates for will-o'-the-wisp combatants.
Precisely because they seem so in line with Christ's crucial admonition, "Go and sell what thou hast and give to the poor and come follow me," these erratic religious communities point up the will-o'-the-wisp quality of the search which, since the first human scratched her or his head in wonder, has been all over the lot.
It, I suspect, is doomed to be the eternal will-o'-the-wisp of regional governance.
explained that what we were seeing is called will-o'-the-wisp. It has other names too, like corpse candle.
But van Tilborg is not so much interested in capturing that elusive will-o'-the-wisp as in doing justice to the character of the gospel as narrative, and biographical narrative, by employing a biographical code that focuses on the family constellation.
We can discern only the will-o'-the-wisp glow of the Milky Way's spiral arms.
PHOTO : Dara Birnbaum, Damnation of Faust: will-o'-the-wisp, 1985.
Pie-in-the-sky, will-o'-the-wisp estimates of fisheries values based on vague assumptions, and/or pious assertions that it is not possible to place a price tag on "priceless" fishery values, are not conducive to attracting longrange backing from decision makers in either industry or government.