Where Did the Term “Pipe Dream” For an Unrealistic Fantasy Originate and What Does the Phrase Mean?

Pipe dreams are often schemes that just won’t work.

Like daydreams, pipe dreams dissolve like smoke rising into the air, which is appropriate, because the metaphor comes from smoking opium.

The phrase can be traced to print in the late nineteenth century, when it was fashionable for hedonists and the upper classes to escape reality through an opium pipe.

Those “on the pipe” were experiencing opium-induced “pipe dreams.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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