Don't go chasing windmills

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by makandés66, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. makandés66 Senior Member

    Old Upper Louisiana
    Midwestern USA English
    In English, there is this expression that refers to Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote which warns someone to "not give into delusions of grandeur". What is a good way to say this in Arabic? I do not know if Cervantes' literary work is that influential in this regard...

  2. Tracer

    Tracer Senior Member

    Wadi Jinn
    American English

    The expression “chasing windmills” is an example of a mixed metaphor and is not really correct.

    The 2 mixed expressions are:

    “Chasing rainbows” = going after or seeking something nearly impossible to obtain.

    “He quit his job and abandoned his family. Then he took off for Hollywood hoping to become a movie star. But he’s just chasing rainbows.”

    “tilting at windmills” =
    fighting imaginary enemies or confronting imaginary problems. (origin: Don Quixote).

    “That country spends 50% of its GNP on armaments fearing an invasion by one of its neighbors. But it’s basically just tilting at windmills.”

    makandés66 most likely meant "chasing rainbows" but I am unable to provide an Arabic equivalent.
  3. makandés66 Senior Member

    Old Upper Louisiana
    Midwestern USA English
    Yes, Tracer, you are correct...

    Jousting at windmills would be a variation to your "tilting" and "chasing rainbows" appears as "chasing shooting stars" sometimes. It is this latter one that I would like to translate into Arabic...
  4. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).

    I'm not sure I understood very well, but "chasing windmills", or more precisely "fighting windmills" is a common figure used in MSA يحارب طواحين الهواء , but it's not related to "grandeur" in any way, it's more about futile battles or imaginary enemies.
  5. makandés66 Senior Member

    Old Upper Louisiana
    Midwestern USA English

    Ok thanks Cherine,

    I guess I think of the expression "delusions of grandeur" when I think of Don Quijote. If one goes "fighting, tilting, or jousting windmills" it does not require grandeur but surely some delusion is present.

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