[ fab-yuh-luhs ]
See synonyms for: fabulousfabulously on Thesaurus.com

  1. Informal. exceptionally good or unusual; wonderful; superb: a fabulous bargain;a fabulous new house.

  2. almost impossible to believe; incredible: Her fabulous story about surviving alone on a desert island for three months was riveting—and it was all true!

  1. told about in fables; purely imaginary or known about only through myths or legends: the fabulous exploits of Hercules.

Origin of fabulous

First recorded in 1540–50; from Latin fābulōsus, equivalent to fābul(a) “a story, tale” + -ōsus adjective suffix; see fable, -ous

word story For fabulous

The core meanings of fabulous are perfect reflections of their Latin roots, which point directly to the word fable. Fables are creative tales or legends, often with magical creatures or great adventures. So when we talk about someone making up a fabulous excuse (which is “almost impossible to believe”) or we read about a fabulous winged horse (which is “purely imaginary”), we are staying pretty close to the Latin origin.
But in everyday usage, the most familiar sense of fabulous may be the informal one—“exceptionally good, wonderful”—which strays from the direct line to fable. Such remarks as “What a fabulous meal!” or “How’s that fabulous brother of yours?” are so common that it would not occur to us to stop and think, “Hey, did he just accuse me of preparing imaginary food?” or “Hmm, does she think my brother is a superhero, or that he’s just not very believable?”
Some might say that the only drawback to such familiarity with fabulous’s informal meaning is that we sometimes have to stop and think when it’s being used as originally intended. If I told you I just read a fabulous tale, could you be sure what I meant by that?

Other words for fabulous

Other words from fabulous

  • fab·u·lous·ly, adverb
  • fab·u·lous·ness, noun
  • un·fab·u·lous, adjective
  • un·fab·u·lous·ly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fabulous in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fabulous


/ (ˈfæbjʊləs) /

  1. almost unbelievable; astounding; legendary: fabulous wealth

  2. informal extremely good: a fabulous time at the party

  1. of, relating to, or based upon fable: a fabulous beast

Origin of fabulous

C15: from Latin fābulōsus celebrated in fable, from fābula fable

Derived forms of fabulous

  • fabulously, adverb
  • fabulousness, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012