community or society possessing highly desirable or perfect qualities

Utopia [1] is a name for an imaginary community or society with a perfect system of laws and politics.[2]

Left panel (The Earthly ParadiseGarden of Eden) from Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Sir Thomas More invented the word for his 1516 book Utopia. The book was about a fictional island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The word has been used to describe both a perfect society, and societies in literature. A related idea is dystopia, the opposite of a dystopia.

There have been many utopias based on politics, economics, religion, ecology. Some of these have been propagated in books and pamphlets, some as actual communities. In practice, attempts to create utopias seem doomed, as good intentions run against problems. Most of the literary utopias are actually satires of existing societies. There were several attempts to create such perfect societies (they did not work). The word utopia can also refer to a society of such an attempt.

Utopia is Greek for no place; related words include eutopia, meaning good place in Greek, paradise, Shangra La and Xanadu.

The ideas Christians, Jews and Muslims have of the Garden of Eden, and of Heaven can be seen as such utopias.

Literature examples



  1. pronounced /juːˈtoʊpiə/
  2. More, Thomas (1 April 2000). Morley, Henry (ed.). Utopia – via Project Gutenberg.
  3. Morris, William (2006) [1903]. The Earthly Paradise. Obscure Press. ISBN 1846645239.