Is there an English word that describes mentioning something just for the sake of mentioning it but it's completely impractical?

Like let's say I say, "we should probably take a more holistic approach, I think it'll give us a lot of new ideas." Except that holistic approach would take 10 more years so we just never end up doing it, and we know we'd never do it, but I mentioned it anyway just for "shoulda" purposes. I think I mention it because maybe we should consider some details from a more holistic approach, but not the entire thing.

Perhaps in simpler terms, mentioning something someone "should do" but knowingly that they would never actually do it to it's fullest extent, but should at least consider?

I hope my explanation makes sense, thanks in advance.

  • "Spitballing" is a word that comes to mind. It's what you do when you brainstorm and provide any and every idea you can think of without any filter, so regardless of how impractical it may be, even if you know it's a nonstarter or totally pie-in-the-sky. May 1, 2021 at 3:10

2 Answers 2


let's say I say, "we should probably take a more holistic approach, I think it'll give us a lot of new ideas."

A statement that describes an excellent proposition but is flawed only on the grounds of practicality is often known as “a counsel of perfection”.

A counsel of perfection is an ironic adaptation of a mediaeval theological idea of some aspects Christ’s specific advice (that would lead to greater moral perfection) but which would be exceptionally difficult/impractical, if not impossible, for an ordinary person to do. (The main three were obligations of voluntary poverty, chastity, and obedience to a religious superior.)

Currently, the phrase has no religious overtones.


Counsel (n.) 2. a. Opinion as to what ought to be done given as the result of consultation; aid or instruction for directing the judgement; advice, direction.

counsel of perfection 2b

1909 A. Bennett Lit. Taste 87 Every Englishman who is interested in any branch of his native literature, and who respects himself, ought to own a comprehensive and inclusive library of English literature, in comely and adequate editions. You may suppose that this counsel is a counsel of perfection. It is not.

1938 W. S. Maugham Summing Up xlviii. 186 Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul. This is a counsel of perfection.

As an example, I remember my German teacher saying, “You should learn all the vocabulary and all the grammar, and then you will have no difficulty in the exam.” :)


In some circumstances we would say that mention was made merely for completeness or for the sake of completeness

Completeness = the quality of being whole or perfect and having nothing missing:

”For the sake of completeness, I should also mention two other minor developments.”


This Cambridge dictionary entry has relevant definition and example. It is difficult to find other examples by using ngram or Google because the quotations are made inaccessible online.

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