[ fan-see ]
See synonyms for: fancyfanciedfancierfancies on

adjective,fan·ci·er, fan·ci·est.
  1. ornamental; decorative; not plain: a cake with a fancy icing.

  2. tending or intending to impress: a fancy degree in geophysics;fancy four-syllable words.

  1. complicated or difficult to perform or execute: a couple doing some fancy footwork on the dance floor.

  2. depending on imagination or caprice; whimsical; irregular: a fancy conception of time.

  3. made, designed, grown, adapted, etc., to please the taste or fancy; of superfine quality or exceptional appeal: fancy goods; fancy fruits.

  4. bred to develop points of beauty or excellence, as an animal.

  5. much too costly; exorbitant or extravagant: a consultant who charges fancy fees.

noun,plural fan·cies.
  1. imagination or fantasy, especially as exercised in a capricious manner.

  2. the artistic ability of creating unreal or whimsical imagery, decorative detail, etc., as in poetry or drawing.

  1. a mental image or conception: He had happy fancies of being a famous actor.

  2. an idea or opinion with little foundation; illusion: Her belief that she can sing is a mere fancy.

  3. a caprice; whim; vagary: It was his fancy to fly to Paris occasionally for dinner.

  4. capricious preference; inclination; a liking: to take a fancy to walking barefoot in the streets.

  5. critical judgment; taste.

  6. the breeding of animals to develop points of beauty or excellence.

  7. the fancy, Archaic. people deeply interested in a sport, art, etc.

  8. Obsolete. sexual love.

verb (used with object),fan·cied, fan·cy·ing.
  1. to form a conception of; picture to oneself: Fancy living with that egotist all your life!

  2. to believe without being absolutely sure or certain: I fancy you are my new neighbor.

  1. to take a liking to; like: I really fancy the spotted one in that litter.

  2. to want or desire: I fancy another piece of cake.

  3. to breed to develop a special type of animal.

  1. Also fancy that . (used as an exclamation of mild surprise): They invited you, too? Fancy!

Verb Phrases
  1. fancy up, to make superficially showy by way of improvement: an old car fancied up with a bright new paint job.

Origin of fancy

First recorded in 1400–1450; Middle English fan(t)sy, syncopated variant of fantasie fantasy

synonym study For fancy

9. Fancy, fantasy, imagination refer to qualities in literature or other artistic composition. The creations of fancy are casual, whimsical, and often amusing, being at once less profound and less moving or inspiring than those of imagination: letting one's fancy play freely on a subject; an impish fancy. Fantasy now usually suggests an unrestrained or extravagant fancy, often resulting in caprice: The use of fantasy in art creates interesting results. The term and concept of creative imagination are less than two hundred years old; previously only the reproductive aspect had been recognized, hardly to be distinguished from memory. “Creative imagination” suggests that the memories of actual sights and experiences may so blend in the mind of the writer or artist as to produce something that has never existed before—often a hitherto unperceived vision of reality: to use imagination in portraying character and action.

word story For fancy

Fancy is a 15th-century contraction of fantasy or phantasy. Fantasy comes from Old French phantasie, fantasie “imagination, imaginative faculty, a work of the imagination,” which in turn comes from Late Latin phantasia “idea, notion, fancy, imagined experience or set of circumstances, mere fancy or semblance.” In the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century), phantasia also means “apparition, phantom.”
The original meaning of fancy, “individual preference or liking, arbitrary inclination,” as in “to take a fancy to someone,” was only one of several meanings of Middle English fantasie, a technical word in the psychology of scholasticism (the system of theological and philosophical teaching and disputation predominant in the Middle Ages, based chiefly upon the authority of the Bible, of the church fathers, and of Aristotle and his pagan, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish commentators).
The adjective fancy, meaning “fine, ornamental,” did not appear until 1753; it developed from attributive use of the noun in the sense “designed to please the taste or fancy.”

Other words for fancy

Other words from fancy

  • fan·ci·ness, noun
  • un·fan·cy, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fancy in a sentence

  • He was going through his fanciest evolutions when he passed me.

  • The coffee roasts well, and has a heavy body, similar to the fanciest Mexicans and Colombians.

    All About Coffee | William H. Ukers
  • That's our fanciest place where the food starts at ten dollars.

    Probability | Louis Trimble
  • It was the fanciest and most expensive screwdriver you ever saw.

    The Trouble with Telstar | John Berryman
  • Jake Tuttle is there with the four children, buying them the fanciest of footgear for the morrow.

    Green Valley | Katharine Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for fancy


/ (ˈfænsɪ) /

adjective-cier or -ciest
  1. not plain; ornamented or decorative: a fancy cake; fancy clothes

  2. requiring skill to perform; intricate: a fancy dance routine

  1. arising in the imagination; capricious or illusory

  2. (often used ironically) superior in quality or impressive: a fancy course in business administration

  3. higher than expected: fancy prices

  4. (of a domestic animal) bred for particular qualities

nounplural -cies
  1. a sudden capricious idea; whim

  2. a sudden or irrational liking for a person or thing

  1. the power to conceive and represent decorative and novel imagery, esp in poetry. Fancy was held by Coleridge to be more casual and superficial than imagination: See imagination (def. 4)

  2. an idea or thing produced by this

  3. a mental image

  4. taste or judgment, as in art of dress

  5. Also called: fantasy, fantasia music a composition for solo lute, keyboard, etc, current during the 16th and 17th centuries

  6. the fancy archaic those who follow a particular sport, esp prize fighting

verb-cies, -cying or -cied (tr)
  1. to picture in the imagination

  2. to suppose; imagine: I fancy it will rain

  1. (often used with a negative) to like: I don't fancy your chances!

  2. (reflexive) to have a high or ill-founded opinion of oneself: he fancied himself as a doctor

  3. informal to have a wish for; desire: she fancied some chocolate

  4. British informal to be physically attracted to (another person)

  5. to breed (animals) for particular characteristics

  1. Also: fancy that! an exclamation of surprise or disbelief

Origin of fancy

C15 fantsy, shortened from fantasie; see fantasy

Derived forms of fancy

  • fancily, adverb
  • fanciness, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with fancy


see flight of fancy; footloose and fancy-free; take a fancy to; tickle one's fancy;.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.