Nearby words

  1. fanciful,
  2. fancifully,
  3. fancify,
  4. fanconi's anemia,
  5. fanconi's syndrome,
  6. fancy dance,
  7. fancy dive,
  8. fancy diving,
  9. fancy dress,
  10. fancy fern

Origin of fancy

1350–1400; Middle English fan(t)sy, syncopated variant of fantasie fantasy

2. 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. 3. thought, notion, impression, idea; phantasm. 5. quirk, humor, crotchet. 11. fine, elegant, choice. 12. decorated, ornate. 16. envision, conceive, imagine.

Related formsfan·ci·ness, nounun·fan·cy, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fancy

British Dictionary definitions for fancy


adjective -cier or -ciest

not plain; ornamented or decorativea fancy cake; fancy clothes
requiring skill to perform; intricatea fancy dance routine
arising in the imagination; capricious or illusory
(often used ironically) superior in quality or impressivea fancy course in business administration
higher than expectedfancy prices
(of a domestic animal) bred for particular qualities

noun plural -cies

a sudden capricious idea; whim
a sudden or irrational liking for a person or thing
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 imaginationSee imagination (def. 4)
an idea or thing produced by this
a mental image
taste or judgment, as in art of dress
Also called: fantasy, fantasia music a composition for solo lute, keyboard, etc, current during the 16th and 17th centuries
the fancy archaic those who follow a particular sport, esp prize fighting

verb -cies, -cying or -cied (tr)

to picture in the imagination
to suppose; imagineI fancy it will rain
(often used with a negative) to likeI don't fancy your chances!
(reflexive) to have a high or ill-founded opinion of oneselfhe fancied himself as a doctor
informal to have a wish for; desireshe fancied some chocolate
British informal to be physically attracted to (another person)
to breed (animals) for particular characteristics


Also: fancy that! an exclamation of surprise or disbelief
Derived Formsfancily, adverbfanciness, noun

Word Origin for fancy

C15 fantsy, shortened from fantasie; see fantasy

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

Word Origin and History for fancy
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.