building castles in the air


      • to have unrealistic dreams or plans
        Describing someone's ambitious or grandiose ideas that are not practical or achievable

      • to waste time on fruitless pursuits
        Criticizing someone for spending time and effort on something that will not yield any tangible results

    Examples of building castles in the air

    • Tom spends all his time daydreaming about starting a successful business, but he hasn't done any research or invested any money into it. People often describe this kind of behavior as "building castles in the air."

      When we say that someone is "building castles in the air," we mean that they're creating elaborate, impractical plans or ideas that are unlikely to succeed in reality. Castles, which were traditionally built on high ground, would be ideal places to defend against invaders. In this idiom, however, the phrase "castles in the air" is used metaphorically to describe a dream or plan that has no practical basis in reality. This phrase suggests that the ideas being created are grandiose and unrealistic, with no solid foundation to support them.

    • Rachel always comes up with extravagant gift ideas that she knows we can't afford, but she keeps suggesting them anyway. Her husband calls her out, saying, "Why do you keep building castles in the air? We can't afford a diamond-encrusted necklace!"

      This example shows how the phrase "building castles in the air" can be used to criticize someone for dreaming up plans that are impossible given the current circumstances. In this case, Rachel's husband is frustrated that she keeps suggesting expensive gifts when they can't afford them. He's using the idiom "building castles in the air" as a way to point out that Rachel's ideas are too grandiose and unrealistic, given their financial situation.

    • Every time Maria applies for a job, she gets excited and immediately starts picturing herself in a fancy office with a corner desk, but she never actually lands the job. Her friends tease her, saying, "Stop building castles in the air! It's time to accept reality."

      This example illustrates how the idiom "building castles in the air" can be used to describe someone's unrealistic optimism. In this case, Maria keeps dreaming about getting a job with a fancy office, but she doesn't seem to be taking into account the reality of the job market. Her friends are using the phrase "building castles in the air" as a way to point out that Maria's daydreams are too far-fetched given the realities of the job market.

    • David often comes up with wild (and sometimes crazy) ideas for new products, but his colleagues are skeptical. They roll their eyes and say, "That sounds like you're trying to build castles in the air, Dave. Can you make it more realistic?"

      This example shows how the phrase "building castles in the air" can be used to describe a plan or idea that is too far-fetched or unrealistic. In this case, David's colleagues are using the idiom to suggest that his ideas need to be more practical and realistic in order to have any chance of success. They're asking him to "bring it back down to earth" and think more practically about his product ideas.

    • Sally has been daydreaming a lot lately, always lost in her own thoughts. It's as if she's building castles in the air, without any real-world considerations.

      This example shows how the expression "building castles in the air" refers to someone engaging in elaborate and impractical fantasies, without any grounding in reality. In Sally's case, she's lost in her thoughts, imagining fantastical scenarios without considering the practicalities of making them happen. The idiom highlights the contrast between her abstract, dream-like musings and the concrete, physical reality that surrounds her.

    • Sarah has been working on a new business idea, but many of her plans are just building castles in the air.

      This idiom means that Sarah's ideas are impractical or unrealistic, as if she is only dreaming of grandiose plans that cannot be easily implemented in the real world.

    • During the board meeting, John proposed a series of ambitious projects that seemed to be building castles in the air.

      This example shows that the idiom can be used to describe someone's ideas as impractical or unrealistic, even if several people, like John in this case, are involved in proposing them.

    • The author's proposals for solving the country's economic crisis are just building castles in the air.

      This example illustrates the use of the idiom in a more formal context, as the author's suggestions are seen as impractical or unrealistic, as if the author is creating overly optimistic scenarios that are not based on reality.


    The idiom "building castles in the air" is used to convey the idea of having unrealistic dreams or plans that are not grounded in reality. It can also be used to criticize someone for wasting time on fruitless pursuits. The underlying message is to focus on more practical and achievable goals rather than indulging in lofty, unattainable fantasies.

    Origin of "building castles in the air"

    The origin of the idiom "building castles in the air" can be traced back to the 16th century. It is believed to have originated from the French expression "faire des châteaux en Espagne," which translates to "to build castles in Spain." This phrase referred to the futility of constructing grandiose structures in a distant and unfamiliar place, highlighting the impracticality and unrealistic nature of such endeavors.

    The idiom gained popularity in English literature, with notable authors such as Sir Philip Sidney and John Milton using variations of the phrase in their works. Over time, "building castles in the air" became a common expression to warn against indulging in unrealistic fantasies and to emphasize the importance of focusing on more practical and attainable goals.