The word `utopia’ comes from the Greek `ou’ and `topos’ meaning `nowhere’; in other words, it is a place that doesn’t exist. Utopia is an imaginary island created by Sir Thomas More in his book written in 1516. The happy inhabitants of this make-believe island enjoyed near perfect living conditions; they had the perfect social and political systems. Nowadays, when you say that a person is `utopian’, what you mean is that he always aims for something that is impossible to achieve. When you dismiss someone’s plan as being `utopian’, you are ridiculing it because you believe that it is unrealistic. Utopian has acquired a negative meaning.

Examples:  Padma, like her father, was pursuing a utopian dream of world peace. *The singer was truly utopian. He believed that countries could exist without borders.

Samuel Butler wrote a novel in 1872 called `Erehwon’ in which he made fun of utopian concepts. `Erehwon’ is actually `nowhere’ spelt backwards!

Source: ‘Know Your English’ ( The Hindu) – July 24, 2006

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