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1. An 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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
"It's only with Mandelbrot's insight-that all this wispiness involves those pathological 19th-century mathematical constructions-that physicists were able eventually to start to attack those problems," says Michael F.
"Write All These Down': Notes on a Song by Byrd" shows how carefully and innovatively Byrd declaimed the text in his "Retire, My Soul." An example is the different textual emphases that Byrd uses in repetitions of certain phrases such as "Write all these down." (What is to be written down in "pale Death's reck'ning tables" are "sins, costly pleasures, follies and vanities.") Kerman admires the balance between rhetoric and structure in the song, and how the technique of imitation is used to "point up the obsessive yet confused persistence of hopes, their wispiness and ultimate futility" (p.
Add volumising graduation Cut-wise, Beth's straight bob needs softening with graduation and gentle layering around the face and on the crown - this adds fullness - while keeping the outline fairly blunt to prevent wispiness. An off-centre parting and long fringe will also help disguise the fact that Beth's hair is thin at the front.
The young Schiaffino fancied himself as a centre-forward but Penarol's youth coaches, mindful of his spectral wispiness, disagreed.
She needs a more definite shape at the front to avoid wispiness, plus graduated layers for more movement and to give the illusion of thickness.