Human beings are aspirational creatures. We tend to be optimistic even when the odds aren’t in our favor.
If anything, it is our optimism that has allowed us to shoot for the stars, to wish for the moon, and to go where no man has gone before.
It is our optimism that has emboldened countless entrepreneurs to take on gargantuan amounts of risk in the hopes of changing the world, attaining riches, and leaving a worthwhile legacy.
However, part of us, the realistic, rational part, realizes the audacity of these aspirations. It realizes that a lot of the times our appetites exceed our capabilities and that even when we reach for the stars, we’d be lucky if we got the moon.
After all, how else can you explain people who buy lottery tickets, play slot machines, and waste their money gambling?
Yet, for those rare occasions when we beat the odds, it turns into a dream come true. In fact, it’s such a beautiful feeling that we have several expressions for it, each one differing in register and usage.
Synonyms of “a dream come true”
There are many other ways you can say that something is “a dream come true.” You might say that you “got your heart’s desire.” Or, you might say that “your deepest fantasies have come to life.” Alternatively, you can also say that something represents your “aspirations actualized,” which might seem stuffy at the outset but is suitable for formal contexts.
If you’re looking for something much simpler, you can always say that “something is better than you could have ever hoped for.” Simpler yet, when something good happens, you could just say, “things couldn’t get better.”
When to use each alternative depends on the context and what you are trying to say. So, let’s take a deeper dive into these alternatives, but, before that, let’s take a closer look at the expression “a dream come true.”
However, for those of you that want to cut to the chase, you can just jump to the synonyms immediately.
A closer look at “a dream come true”
If you’re a fan of American football, then you know the exhilarating feeling that comes with the completion of a Hail Mary pass.
For those of you who might not enjoy this American variant of football, the gist is that a Hail Mary is a play with incredibly low chances of success and that teams usually perform them out of desperation.
However, a completed Hail Mary wouldn’t count as “a dream come true” for most.
But, seeing your favorite team, the one you’ve cheered on and supported for years on end, win the Superbowl, with a Hail Mary pass no less, then that would constitute a dream come true for most fans.
So, what’s the difference? Why is the completion in itself not necessarily a dream come true while winning the trophy is?
To answer that, we need to break down the expression.
(By the way, for many of you, what follows might come across as splitting hairs, yet it really will inform our discussion later on of how you should use the synonyms. Just bear with me, and I promise you it will all pay off.)
Breaking down “a dream come true”
The expression “a dream come true” consists of two parts. You have the idea of a “dream,” and then there’s the “coming true” part.
What’s in a dream?
Dreams are mysterious things. Even though we don’t fully understand them, we know that they reveal something about us.
After all, when we think really hard about something, such as something troubling us or something we’ve been wanting for quite some time, that thing tends to show up in our dreams.
This was why Sigmund Freud tried to analyze his patients through their dreams, which culminated in his 1899 book, “The Interpretation of Dreams.” This is also why, in English, we use the word “dream” to mean to want something really badly.
I’ve been dreaming about this opportunity ever since I can remember.
Basically, the speaker here is saying that they’ve wanted a certain opportunity for a very long time. In fact, they’ve wanted is to such a degree that it has been showing up in their dreams on a daily basis. Of course, this last part is figurative, but you get the picture.
Alternatively, dreams have a fantastical nature. We see things in them that could never happen in reality. We see flying unicorns, dinosaurs with chicken heads, and cats giving lectures on quantum physics.
(Don’t judge me on my weird dreams. I’m sure you have your share too.)
Moreover, we rarely have control over our dreams. We are relegated to spectators with no agency to speak of.
This is also why when someone has a surreal experience, they describe it as being “as though they were in a dream.”
The whole accident happened so quickly that I didn’t have the time to register what was going on. It was like I was in a dream.
Here, both the fantastical nature of the experience as well as the lack of agency of the speaker are registered when the accident is likened to a dream.
So, for our purposes, dreams have two unique properties. On the one hand, they allow us to see the things we want and to even experience our deepest desires.
But, on the other hand, they show us strange, impossible things, things that would be incomprehensible in the real world.
What about the “coming true” part?
The expression “coming true” is simple enough. It means that something has become a reality. Period.
Now, when you combine the two components together, you get one of two meanings. One meaning is that something you really wanted has happened. Or, the other meaning is that whatever has transpired was so fantastical that it was closer to being a dream.
However, there is a third meaning, one that combines the other two.
In short, “a dream come true” can be something that you’ve wanted for a long time yet were are aware that it was very likely that it would never happen because the odds were against you. Also, sometimes, but not always, how this desire is fulfilled can be attributed to an outside agency.
Visiting America was a dream come true.
Here, the speaker is saying that they had always wanted to visit America and were glad it had happened.
Seeing the Seattle Mariners win the World Series would be a dream come true.
In the above sentence, it isn’t only a matter of wanting the Seattle Mariners to win, but it is also an admission of the near impossibility of that task.
This is why seeing a Hail Mary pass completed isn’t necessarily a dream come true, whereas your team winning the Superbowl with such a play is.
The former happens a lot if you watch plenty of football, so calling it “a dream come true” would come across as hyperbole.
However, what isn’t so common is a team winning the Superbowl through such a pass, especially if said team hasn’t won in ages.
Synonyms for “a dream come true”
So, why did we go through all of that? Why break down “a dream come true” and try to understand its different possible meanings?
Well, you see, aside from differing in formality, the synonyms also differ in what they accentuate. Some of the coming synonyms focus on the wish part, while others delve more into the fantastical element.
Granted, each synonym we will look at usually implies that something you wanted to happen and that had a minuscule chance of happening has actually happened.
Yet, each one will also differ in the part it will focus on, which should give you a guide on which one to use within different contexts.
With that said, we will not only look at how synonyms differ in the parts they focus on, but we will also talk about their register, looking at how formal or informal the following expression might seem.
Expressions that focus on the wishing element
Shooting stars really do work
To understand this expression, you should know that there is a general superstition, a benign one, that whenever you see a shooting star, you should make a wish. You even have the song called, “when you wish upon a star,” which was in the movie “Pinocchio.”
So, the connotation here is that since your wish has been realized, then shooting stars definitely work.
This is an informal expression, especially given its very visual and metaphorical nature in addition to its reliance on a piece of folklore. So, you can use it with close friends and family.
When I realized that I had gotten accepted into the academy, I knew that shooting stars really do work.
However, the expression also has an endearing nature. After all, there is something almost juvenile or childish about believing in the power of shooting stars. So, if you want to accentuate the fact that the realization of your dream was thanks in large part to an outside agency, this expression can work well.
For instance, let’s say you needed to get a certain operation yet didn’t have the funds for it. If a certain benefactor were to fund it for you, you might write this to them as your thank you letter.
“… I can never thank you enough. My family and I owe you a debt of gratitude, and it is because of people like you that I truly believe that shooting stars really do work.”
Realizing my heart’s desires
There is always the conception that the things we want have a special place in our hearts somehow. This is why when people really want something, we say that it is their heart’s true desire.
This expression is also a bit informal, yet the usage of the word “realize” can make it a tad more wordy.
Having a daughter was the realization of my heart’s desires.
If you want to make the expression more informal, then try swapping “realization” for something easier on the ears. Maybe, the gerund“getting” might work.
Having a daughter was me getting my heart’s desires.
A wish come true
This expression is very close to our original expression, “a dream come true.” The only difference is that this expression obviously focuses on the wishing element, with the implication being that wishes are generally hard to attain.
Nevertheless, dreams tend to be harder to achieve than wishes, so you should use “a wish come true” when talking about something you wanted yet wasn’t that impossible to attain.
Sending all my children to college was a wish come true.
Do you really need me to tell you that this is a very formal expression?
I mean it’s very wordy, almost to the point of being a tad stuffy. No one would ever talk like that in the real world, yet you might write this in a letter, especially when writing a CEO, your boss, or the mayor.
It is also worth noting that, again, the focus here is on the wishful element. In essence, you were aspiring for whatever had just actualized.
“… Getting this opportunity is the actualization of my aspirations.”
A vision realized
This is also a bit formal. You see, rather than talking about our wishes, we are talking about our vision. In a way, the two are kind of similar. We want to attain our vision because it will help us something we wish for.
Yet, talking about visions and objectives is much more mature and formal than talking about wishes. Having a vision also implies a sense of agency, the kind of agency that people who dream too much lack.
When the country eliminated poverty, it realized its vision.
Additionally, when you use this expression, you are saying that whatever happened wasn’t necessarily an impossible thing. At the end of the day, visions are supposedly much more attainable than dreams.
Expressions that focus on the fantastical element
Living my fantasy
When we fantasize, we daydream. We play impossible, or at least unlikely, scenarios in our heads and imagine what it would feel like to live in them.
When I was out on a date with her, I really was living a fantasy.
You can also add the word deepest to get “living my deepest fantasy.”
Now, using the word “deepest” lets the listener know that this isn’t just a plain, old fantasy.
The fantasy that you are “living,” i.e. the one that has been actualized, is a deep one, giving away the fact that it represents something you have wanted for a long time.
The fact that you have been deeply fantasizing about what had just transpired says something about you.
Ergo, you want to reserve using “deepest” for the occasions when it makes sense and when it won’t come across as hyperbole.
I’ve always wanted to make the national football team. So, when I was playing for my country during the World Cup, I was living my deepest fantasy.
Obviously, this is an informal expression. In fact, most of the coming expressions will be more or less informal. After all, there is no room for fantasizing in the professional world.
A fantasy fulfilled
This expression is similar to the one above. However, while “living a fantasy” is more suited for a prolonged experience, “a fantasy fulfilled” works for events that happen, such as winning a certain prize.
When I won the competition, it was a fantasy fulfilled.
Here, winning the competition represents the fulfillment of the fantasy for the speaker.
When I won the competition, I was living the fantasy.
In this latter example, it is the experience of winning the competition rather than the prize itself that constitutes the realized fantasy.
This might seem like splitting hairs, but the devil is always in the details. Each one of these expressions conveys a different emotion, and understanding these different emotions is the secret to great writing.
Better than I could have ever hoped for/ better than imagined
When we fantasize, we tend to imagine a world where everything is perfect and everything is going exactly the way you want it to go. So, when something is better than that, it must be quite memorable.
The project turned out better than I could have ever hoped for.
It’s also worth noting that the wishful element is underplayed here. There is no sense in the above example where the speaker is saying that they had always wanted the project to succeed.
The sentence only lets us know that the outcome was better than what had been anticipated.
The company was better than imagined.
Exceeds my wildest expectation/ exceeds my wildest fantasies
These expressions are very similar to the ones above. Again, the thing being talked about isn’t necessarily something you want a great deal, yet the outcome is better than anything you might have played in your head.
The house we bought exceeded my wildest fantasies.
The kids were so successful that they exceeded my wildest expectations.
Couldn’t ask for better
Finally, this is a simple one. It might not show that something “exceeded your expectations” or that it was “a wish come true.”
Yet, it lets the hearer know that you are content with the outcome of something and that, as far as you’re concerned, this was the best outcome possible.
The kids in my class are all brilliant. I couldn’t ask for a better group.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.