• fancy •
Pronunciation: fæn-see • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, Noun, Adjective
Meaning: 1. [Verb] To imagine, to believe something outlandish, as 'to fancy oneself a mover and a shaker'. 2. [Verb] To like, to want, as 'to fancy chocolates'. 3. [Noun] A liking or desire for, as 'to have a fancy for chocolate'. 4. [Adjective] Special because of intricacy or decoration, not common or ordinary, as 'a fancy new suit'. 5. [Adjective] Top quality, as 'a fancy cut of meat'.
Notes: Today's Good Word brought only part of its family with it across the Atlantic. In the States, we use this word as an adjective rather than as a verb the way Lewis Carroll did when he wrote, "She tried to fancy what the flame of a candle looks like after the candle is blown out," in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. You might be surprised at how often the fancy men of Caribbean women are rather plain. That is because a fancy man is a man to whom a woman takes a fancy, regardless of how he dresses.
In Play: A North American traveling abroad might not be prepared for an expression like, "I fancy you would fancy a new fancy man." Yes, that is your native tongue. It means: "I suppose you would like a new boyfriend." Around the English-speaking world this word has three functions, but Americans, it would seem, do not fancy the verbal one.
Word History: AlphaDictionary aims at helping us all pronounce English words correctly (see our Mispronounced Words feature). But many words in our language result from mangling the spoken word. Curtsy is a chewed-up version of courtesy, ornery is a corruption of ordinary, and today's word is fantasy mangled. Fantasy came to us via the usual route (French-Latin) from Greek phantasia "appearance, imagination," the noun of phantazesthai "to appear". This verb was derived from the adjective phantos "visible", whose cousins include phos (phot-) "light", which we find in photograph and photon. It is also the distant cousin of English beckon and beacon.