Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty
Walter Mittyish.
pl. Walter Mittys.
an ordinary, timid person who is given to adventurous and self-aggrandizing daydreams or secret plans as a way of glamorizing a humdrum life.
[from the title character of James Thurber's short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1939)]

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▪ fictional character
      American literary character, a meek and bumbling man who spends much of his time lost in heroic daydreams.

      The short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1939) by American author James Thurber (Thurber, James) begins with its protagonist's fearlessly leading a Navy crew through an aircraft takeoff amid near-hurricane conditions, only to reveal that the scene is merely his fantasy; in reality he is driving with his wife into town for their weekly errands. Mitty struggles to remember a shopping list, bungles parking his car, and endures routine scolding from his wife. All the while, he pictures himself in a variety of dramatic fantasies as a maverick surgeon, a devilish assassin, and a British Royal Air Force pilot.

      The imaginary Mitty never triumphs. Just as he is about to achieve his fantasy destiny, he is always pulled back into real life, usually because of an incident resulting from his own distraction. At the end of the story, he envisions himself fearlessly facing death at the hands of a firing squad.

      Thurber's story, first published in The New Yorker, gained a much wider readership when it was reprinted in Reader's Digest. Subsequently, it became one of the most anthologized and well-known American short stories of the 20th century. In 1947 actor Danny Kaye (Kaye, Danny) portrayed Mitty in a feature film that diverged substantially from its source material. Walter Mitty's name entered the cultural lexicon, appearing in several English dictionaries as a term for a commonplace, unadventurous person who seeks to escape reality through daydreams.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Walter Mitty — →↑Mitty, WalteR …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • walter mitty — A Walter Mitty character is an unexceptional person who is prone to daydreaming of personal triumphs …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • Walter Mitty — ☆ Walter Mitty [mit′ē ] n. [< “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” a short story by THURBER James (Grover)] an ordinary, unassuming person who dreams of being heroic, successful, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Walter Mitty — Infobox character colour = #DEDEE2 name = Walter Mitty caption = Danny Kaye as Walter Mitty first = The Secret Life of Walter Mitty The New Yorker , March 18, 1939 last = cause = nickname = The Old Man (in one fantasy) alias = species = gender =… …   Wikipedia

  • Walter Mitty — UK [ˌwɔːltə(r) ˈmɪtɪ] / US [ˌwɔltər ˈmɪtɪ] noun [countable] Word forms Walter Mitty : singular Walter Mitty plural Walter Mitties someone who imagines that unusual or exciting things happen to them, but whose life is in fact very ordinary •… …   English dictionary

  • Walter Mitty — noun Etymology: Walter Mitty, daydreaming hero of a story by James Thurber Date: 1949 a commonplace unadventurous person who seeks escape from reality through daydreaming • Walter Mittyish adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Walter Mitty — Wal′ter Mit′ty [[t]ˈwɔl tər[/t]] n. pl. Walter Mit•tys cvb an ordinary, timid person who is given to adventurous and self aggrandizing daydreams • Etymology: from the title character of James Thurber s short story “The Secret Life of Walter… …   From formal English to slang

  • walter mitty — n. Walter Mitty, fictional character in a story by James Thurber who daydreams about his adventures and triumphs; ordinary person who fantasizes that he is an extraordinary or heroic person …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Walter Mitty — noun a person who fantasizes about a life much more exciting and glamorous than their own. Origin the fantasizing hero of James Thurber s short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1939) …   English new terms dictionary

  • Walter Mitty — noun a sad or pathetic person given to flights of fancy, a daydreamer …   Wiktionary

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