A friend is looking for a translation of his album title to English. The title in Persian roughly means "slogan wishes" if split apart and translated word by word. The actual meaning is "wishes that everybody chants like a slogan but most neither work towards nor achieve." What would you call it in English?

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    Things like a cure for cancer, eternal life, an end to world hunger come to mind. Ironically, we've made some progress on that last one, only to replace it with an increasing global obesity problem. Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 13:34
  • @FumbleFingers Well I'm not really looking for examples of it, but rather a general word or a short phrase that incompasses such wishes, if there was any.
    – shayan
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 13:39
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    @StoneyB: Or pious hopes, perhaps. That usually implies ambitions unlikely to be fulfilled (because as we all know, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride). Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 13:59
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    @StoneyB "pious hopes" looks convincing
    – shayan
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 14:04
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5 Answers 5


Consider calling them platitudes.

platitude noun A remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. ‘she began uttering liberal platitudes’ - ODO

A platitude is a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, generally directed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease. Platitudes are geared towards presenting a shallow, unifying wisdom over a difficult topic. However, they are too general and overused to be anything more than undirected statements with ultimately little meaningful contribution towards a solution. - wikipedia

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    This one does it for me! When I proposed pious hopes as a compound noun in an earlier comment, I didn't really think there would be a single-word term. But I note that pious platitudes gets nearly as many hits in Google Books - and when I stop to think about it, it seems to me pious is invariably implied anyway, so I think you've nailed this question on the "one-word answer" front. Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 14:39
  • The answer is spot on, so +1, but would I also suggest it as the title of a pop album? Hmm... it's definitely shorter than the OP's title though.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 14:46
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    @Mari-LouA Why not? Rolling Stone's top-ranked album of 2017 is "Melodrama", with "Rainbow" and "Reputation" coming 2nd and 3rd - all single word titles. "Platitudes" sounds pretty evocative. Maybe I'll make use of it. Even here: Platitudes ... by ELU hmm, seems fitting, somehow. :)
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 14:53
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    @Mari-Lou A: Punning is the lowest form of wit, but I can certainly imagine an album being called [Im]pious plattertudes. And I did find Category Archives: Plattertudes. CDs, Tapes and Vinyl reviewed! on WordPress. Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 14:54
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    This doesn't quite work for me; when I think of platitudes, I think of some bromide that suggests that a problem has already been solved or will solve itself, rather than a statement of hope or ambition about solving the problem. In other words, something like "you look fine the way you are" rather than "my New Year's resolution is to lose weight," or "humans are adaptable" rather than "we should solve global warming."
    – 1006a
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 20:54

From Merriam-Webster:

lip service

an avowal of advocacy, adherence, or allegiance expressed in words but not backed by deeds —usually used with pay

Similarly from AHD:

Verbal expression of agreement or allegiance, unsupported by real conviction or action; hypocritical respect.

Lip service continues to be paid to resolving regional conflicts, but there is no sense of urgency (Henry A. Kissinger).

And most pithily from Vocabulary.com:

an expression of agreement that is not supported by real conviction

Some relevant synonyms given by Thesaurus.com include:

  • empty talk
  • hollow words
  • hypocrisy
  • insincerity
  • jive
  • sham
  • smooth talk
  • sweet talk
  • token agreement / tokenism¹

¹ In the only making a symbolic effort sense, not in the sense specific to affirmative-action or similar law.


While the previous answers are quite good, I would also suggest you consider pipe dreams:

an illusory or fantastic plan, hope, or story

Example: His plan for starting his own business was just a pipe dream.

Synonyms: conceit, daydream, delusion, illusion, fantasy

Related words: mirage, concoction, fable, fabrication, fiction, invention

Definition of pipe dream for English Language Learners: a hope, wish, or dream that is impossible to achieve or not practical

Source: Merriam-Webster


Focusing on the "nobody is doing anything about them" part, you may describe them as idle wishes:

(adjective) 3 : not based on anything real or serious • an idle threat
from m-w.com


This word carries a lot of specific connotations that your friend probably don't want for his/her album, but the (quite new) idea of slacktivism could be fairly well described that way.

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