"Pie in the sky" refers to something really wonderful that probably isn't going to happen. This colorful idiom expresses a longing for something lovely or pleasant, even if it's unlikely or unrealistic. It adds a poetic touch to any serious or lighthearted conversation. While aspirational, the phrase is tinged with a sense of impossibility about attaining the thing desired. In general, "pie in the sky" is a whimsical idiom that poignantly captures the human tendency to wish for what we can't have.
At its core, "pie in the sky" refers to a goal or hope often seen as desirable but unlikely to be fulfilled due to its idealistic or impractical nature. It could refer to plans, dreams, or schemes that are unlikely to come true or materialize.
Key aspects of the idiom's meaning:
This idiom comes from a song made by Joe Hill, a Swedish-American guy who fought for workers' rights and wrote songs about it. He was part of a group called the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) or the "Wobblies." He created a funny version of a religious song called "The Preacher and the Slave" that made fun of religious leaders who told poor, suffering workers they'd get rewards in heaven but didn't help them here on Earth. Take a look at the catchy part of the song below.
"You will eat, bye and bye, In that glorious land above the sky; Work and pray, live on hay, You’ll get pie in the sky when you die."
- The Preacher and the Slave (Pie in the Sky) by Joe Hill
"Bourgeois capitalists don't want their pie in the sky when they die. They want their pie here and now."
- Catholic Radicalism by Maurin Peter
Thanks to its vibrant imagery, the idiom "pie in the sky" has been used in various media forms, including music, movies, and literature.
While "pie in the sky" is an expressive and colorful phrase, other idioms or expressions in English convey a similar meaning.
It's an idiom used to describe a dream or goal that is viewed as desirable but is unlikely to be realized or achieved.
The phrase "pie in the sky" originated from a song by Joe Hill, a Swedish-American labor activist, in 1911. The phrase has since been adopted into common English parlance to refer to unrealistic or unlikely goals or dreams.
The idiom "pie in the sky" can be used in a sentence to express a desire or goal that is unlikely to be fulfilled. For example, "The idea of a four-day work week may seem like a pie in the sky, but some companies are trying to make it a reality."
Some synonyms include "pipe dream," "castle in the air," "daydream," and "fool's paradise."
Not necessarily. While it can be used to express skepticism about the feasibility of a dream or goal, it doesn't carry a negative connotation in itself. It's more about the improbability of the achievement.
Yes, though it is considered a colloquial expression and might not be suitable for very formal or academic writing.
Yes, it originated in America but is now understood and used in many parts of the English-speaking world.
Yes, it often refers to goals or dreams that are seen as unlikely to occur in the future.
It can be used sarcastically, especially when referring to overly ambitious or unrealistic plans or dreams.
An opposite phrase could be a "sure thing" or a "safe bet," which refer to things that are certain or very likely to happen.
“Pie in the sky” is an expressive idiom that is used to describe an unrealistically optimistic or fantastical aspiration. It can be used to playfully mock or question the practicality of someone's hopes or dreams. Recognizing and understanding idioms like these can greatly enrich your language skills and enable you to communicate more effectively.
Here's a quick summary:
Understanding idioms like "pie in the sky" can help you comprehend the nuances of English and enable you to express your thoughts more creatively and vividly.