Origin of the Word:
1759 (in translations of Voltaire), from French optimisme (1737), from Modern Latin optimum, used by Gottfried Leibniz (in "Thodice," 1710) to mean "the greatest good," from Latin optimus "the best" (see optimum). The doctrine holds that the actual world is the "best of all possible worlds," in which the creator accomplishes the most good at the cost of the least evil.
Launched out of philosophical jargon and into currency by Voltaire's satire on it in "Candide." General sense of "belief that good ultimately will prevail in the world" first attested 1841 in Emerson; meaning "tendency to take a hopeful view of things" first recorded 1819 in Shelley.
- hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.
- the doctrine, especially as set forth by Leibniz, that this world is the best of all possible worlds.
Other useful definitions by Creative, and Game-Changing Thinkers:
"Optimistic as a choice
: If your team is up by thirty points at halftime, it’s not optimistic to expect that you’re going to win–it’s a realistic assessment. Optimism is an attitude and a choice. It involves context and focus. We’re not deluding ourselves with the reassurance that everything is going to be okay (because that’s not productive). Instead, we’re committed to finding things we can contribute to, work on, and improve. We’re devoted to seeking out useful lessons and to discovering where the benefit of the doubt might be helpful.
Positive thinking doesn’t solve every problem.
But it’s a much better tool than negative thinking." - Seth Godin