[Edit: I have asked the wrong question—my apologies. What I am looking for is not a single word, expression, or idiom. I am looking for a parable or an example of an analogy. Maybe a one-sentence, real-life story of a well-known instance where megalomania meets idiocy.]

Occasionally people get excited over some business plan or idea in general, talking exaltedly about the outcomes or benefits, ignoring some crucial logical hole or contradicting physical laws.


Executive: Now if we get the response time for our signal to Australia below 50ms we have won.
Engineer: But the speed-of-light limit to Australia is 67ms.
Executive: Yes, it is a problem but we must not give up now.

Are there any canonical parables or examples of analogies for this concept?

  • Hi, I am not looking for a word choice or 'one word for'. In the FAQ it says "Questions asking for help expressing a concept or an idea" are on topic. May 11, 2020 at 14:15
  • 2
    Except, you're not asking for help Writing a new metaphor, you're asking about if there is an existing one in the English Language to Use. While I admit there is overlap and interplay, I feel that the pool of people on ELU is better suited to answering (although, again, there is overlap between the two) May 11, 2020 at 14:54
  • You have two good answers here. Are they more in line with what you are after? I have voted to reopen. May 14, 2020 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


An established expression for this is pie in the sky:

From Merriam-Webster:

: an unrealistic enterprise or prospect of prosperity

And from Lexico (Oxford), which provides example sentences:

Used to describe or refer to something that is pleasant to contemplate but is very unlikely to be realized.

‘It's probably pie in the sky to say we could unionize them, but that's what I'd like to see.’
‘We are not talking pie in the sky, we are talking about clear correlations which will help deliver a healthier Scotland.’
‘We are still in the preliminary stages but we are seriously interested - it is not pie in the sky.’

So, to rephrase the example dialogue in the question:

Engineer: But the speed-of-light limit to Australia is 67ms, so this is just pie in the sky.


You can use the expression castles in the air meaning:

plans that have very little chance of happening.

Cambridge Dictionary)

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