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Ambitious vs Pretentious vs Utopian

Ambitious, Pretentious and Utopian are comparable when they are applied to such matters as plans, designs, programs, or policies and mean straining or exceeding the capacity of their authors or executants.

Something is ambitious which is either so far beyond what can with certainty be accomplished that its realization or execution is doubtful or which, if realized, is accomplished only by excessive effort or by testing one’s powers to the utmost.

  • the philosopher has the ambitious aim of unifying, or harmonizing, these points of view
  • his last novel was his most ambitious and possibly his best

Something is pretentious which so far exceeds one’s powers or resources that any attempt to carry it out reveals one’s inadequacy, inexperience, or lack of sufficient skill; in this sense it often but not necessarily implies ostentation.

  • the program was too pretentious for so young a violinist

Something is Utopian which is utterly impracticable or unattainable under present or sometimes, any conditions. Utopian, if it does not suggest an idealistic approach, invariably implies indifference to actualities.

  • the reformers started out with an ambitious program which its critics called Utopian; time has shown that it was too pretentious