tilt at windmills - Phrases/Idioms
Engage in conflict with an imagined opponent, pursue a vain goal, as in Trying to reform campaign financing in this legislature is tilting at windmills. This metaphoric expression alludes to the hero of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote (1605), who rides with his lance at full tilt (poised to strike) against a row of windmills, which he mistakes for evil giants.
tilt at windmills
Variant of windmill
- a mill operated by the wind's rotation of large, oblique sails or vanes radiating from a shaft: used as a source of power for grinding grain, pumping water, generating electricity, etc.
- anything like a windmill, as a propellerlike toy (pinwheel) revolved by wind
transitive verb, intransitive verb
to rotate like a windmill