Fancy

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Dr. Goodword
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Fancy

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:35 pm

• 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.
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call_copse
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Re: Fancy

Postby call_copse » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:08 am

British usage is to indicate a 'liking' for someone - 'She fancies him' or similar. A slightly different case from those presented.
Iain

George Kovac
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Re: Fancy

Postby George Kovac » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:58 am

Thanks for calling attention to that charming British usage which, I regret, has never found much of a market among Americans. I first encountered that usage as a teenager, listening to these coy lines from a Beatles song:

His rival it seems, had broken his dreams
By stealing the girl of his fancy.
Her name was Magill, and she called herself Lil.
But everyone knew her as Nancy.
“The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words.” Colum McCann “But Always Meeting Ourselves” New York Times, June 15, 2009

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call_copse
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Re: Fancy

Postby call_copse » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:10 am

Hmm, may have to queue up the White Album, always good, though some 'rockier' patches than some of the albums (never exactly terrible but perhaps a bit dated).
Iain


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