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Hope vs. Wish: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 28, 2023
Hope implies a desire for something possible or likely, while wish suggests longing for something unlikely or fanciful.

Key Differences

Hope often carries a sense of expectation or confidence, reflecting a realistic desire for a positive outcome. In contrast, a wish is more about longing or craving for something, often without the expectation of it becoming true.
Hope is generally grounded in some form of reality or probability, making it seem attainable. On the other hand, a wish tends to be more fantastical or idealistic, lacking a solid foundation in reality.
In terms of emotional connotation, hope usually has a more positive and encouraging aspect, associated with resilience and persistence. Conversely, wish can sometimes imply a sense of resignation or escapism from reality.
Hope is often linked with personal agency and a will to make something happen, while wish leans towards passivity, indicating a desire for something without the accompanying action or effort.
Hope is typically used in contexts where there’s a sense of control or influence over the outcome. In contrast, wish is often used in scenarios where the outcome is out of one’s control, based more on luck or external factors.

Comparison Chart


Grounded in reality or likelihood.
Often fantastical or unrealistic.


Implies personal effort or control.
Suggests passivity or lack of control.

Emotional Tone

Positive, encouraging, resilient.
May imply escapism or resignation.

Context of Use

In achievable, realistic scenarios.
In unlikely or idealistic scenarios.

Outcome Expectation

Expectation of fulfillment.
Longing without expectation.

Hope and Wish Definitions


A desire for a certain thing to be true or to occur.
She hopes that she'll get the job.


An expression of longing for a situation that is unlikely.
She wishes she could turn back time.


A feeling of expectation for a certain thing to happen.
I hope to graduate with honors.


A yearning for a change in one's circumstances.
He wishes for a peaceful life.


Grounded optimism about future events.
He hopes for a better world for his children.


A fantasy or daydream about something desired.
We often wish upon a star for our dreams to come true.


Anticipation with a belief in the possibility.
We hope to reunite with our family soon.


A desire for something that is not easily attainable.
I wish I could fly.


Trust or confidence in a future event.
They hope their efforts will be successful.


A request or desire for someone's fortune or wellbeing.
They wish her luck in her new endeavor.


To wish for a particular event that one considers possible
We are hoping for more financial support.


A feeling that one would like to have or do something or to see something happen; a desire, longing, or strong inclination for a specific thing.


Can hope be negative?

Rarely. Hope is typically associated with positive outcomes.

Can wishes come true?

While wishes can come true, they often pertain to less likely scenarios.

Does hope imply certainty?

Not necessarily certainty, but it does imply a reasonable degree of expectation.

Can hope exist in desperate situations?

Yes, hope often arises even in challenging or dire circumstances.

Is hope always about the future?

Yes, it's inherently forward-looking.

Can wishes be practical?

They can be, but they often extend beyond practical or probable scenarios.

Do wishes always involve magic or fantasy?

Not always, but they tend to lean towards unrealistic or idealistic desires.

Can a wish be realistic?

It can be, but it generally implies a lower probability of realization.

Is hope always realistic?

Generally, yes. Hope tends to be based on realistic possibilities.

Is hope a passive emotion?

No, hope often involves an element of personal agency or action.

Is wishing a form of escapism?

Sometimes, as it can involve longing for an alternate reality.

Can hope be harmful?

In rare cases, unrealistic hope might lead to disappointment.

Can hope change one's outlook?

Yes, it can positively influence one’s perspective and actions.

Are wishes always self-focused?

No, wishes can be for others' wellbeing too.

Does hope require effort?

Often, as it is linked with the will to influence outcomes.

Is hope beneficial for mental health?

Generally, yes. It fosters positivity and resilience.

Do wishes reflect true desires?

Yes, they often reflect deep-seated desires or longings.

Are wishes always spoken or thought?

They can be either, often expressed in thought or through rituals.

Is wishing a passive activity?

Typically, yes, as it doesn't usually involve direct action towards realization.

Is it common to make wishes on special occasions?

Yes, it's a cultural practice in many societies.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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