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Origin of fancy

First recorded in 1400鈥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. 鈥淐reative imagination鈥 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鈥攐ften a hitherto unperceived vision of reality: to use imagination in portraying character and action.

historical usage of fancy

Fancy is a 15th-century contraction of fantasy or phantasy. Fantasy comes from Old French phantasie, fantasie 鈥渋magination, imaginative faculty, a work of the imagination,鈥 which in turn comes from Late Latin phantasia 鈥渋dea, notion, fancy, imagined experience or set of circumstances, mere fancy or semblance.鈥 In the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century), phantasia also means 鈥渁pparition, phantom.鈥
The original meaning of fancy, 鈥渋ndividual preference or liking, arbitrary inclination,鈥 as in 鈥渢o take a fancy to someone,鈥 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 鈥渇ine, ornamental,鈥 did not appear until 1753; it developed from attributive use of the noun in the sense 鈥渄esigned to please the taste or fancy.鈥


fan路ci路ness, nounun路fan路cy, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fancy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fancy

Derived forms of fancy

fancily, adverbfanciness, noun

Word Origin for fancy

C15 fantsy, shortened from fantasie; see fantasy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 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庐 Idioms Dictionary Copyright 漏 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.