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fa·​nat·​ic fə-ˈna-tik How to pronounce fanatic (audio)
plural fanatics
disapproving : a person exhibiting excessive enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion toward some controversial matter (as in religion or politics)
a religious fanatic [=extremist]
The fanatics are convinced they are serving a righteous cause and that all means are justified …Flora Lewis
: a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity
a boating/sports/racing fanatic
She's a real fanatic when it comes to working out.
Since the U.S. economy began to sputter in 2008, shoppers have become coupon fanatics and lovers of buy-one-get-one-free deals …Janet K. Keeler


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variants or fanatical
: marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion
they're fanatic about politics
a fanatic attention to details
fanatically adverb
fanaticalness noun

Did you know?

The Fanatical Origin of Fan

There are a good number of etymological myths in the English language, stories about the origins of words (such as the widespread notion that posh originated as an acronym for “port out, starboard home”) which are, to put it kindly, inaccurate. But this does not mean that every vivid account of linguistic origin is fictitious. Many words, such as fan, do have colorful backstories.

Fan is generally–and very likely correctly–believed to be a shortened form of fanatic. The origin of fanatic (which can be traced back to the Latin word fanum, meaning “sanctuary, temple”) is less often commented on. In English, fan made an early appearance in the late 17th century only to disappear for two centuries, resurfacing in the late 19th century. In this later period of use, it often referred to the devoted observers of, or participants in, a sport. An 1885 article from The Kansas City Times, for example, contains the line “The base ball ‘fans’ of the ploice [sic] force and fire department engage in a ball game.”

Did you know?

The Latin adjective fanaticus, a derivative of the noun fanum, meaning “temple,” originally meant “of or relating to a temple.” It was later used to refer to pious individuals who were thought to have been inspired by a god or goddess. In time, the sense “frantic, frenzied, mad” arose because it was thought that persons behaving in such a manner were possessed by a deity. This was the first meaning of the English word fanatic. This sense is now obsolete, but it led to the meaning “excessively enthusiastic, especially about religious matters.” The word later became less specific, meaning simply “excessively enthusiastic or unreasonable.” The noun fan, meaning “enthusiast,” is probably a shortening of fanatic.

Examples of fanatic in a Sentence

Adjective because of her fanatical views, her friends know better than to try to discuss the issues with her
Recent Examples on the Web
Coffee fanatics can score two fall drinks for the price of one at Starbucks every Thursday afternoon this September. Sabrina Weiss, Peoplemag, 6 Sep. 2023 Wherever Culwell goes, burger fanatics will follow: The Dallas Morning News said the Maverick burger was Dallas’ best burger in March 2023. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, 31 Aug. 2023 Often, these atrocities turn out to be committed by longtime fanatics. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2023 The company is giving away $10,000 prizes to help design fanatics transform their homes with Cracked Pepper. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, 15 Aug. 2023 Calling all shopping fanatics: Amazon just announced another huge savings event. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 18 Sep. 2023 The bakery is known in part for its dedicated gluten-free kitchen, but even before the Celiac community discovered them, Spooky's Swirls was welcomed by horror fanatics all over the Valley. Endia Fontanez, The Arizona Republic, 22 Aug. 2023 So go ahead, fellow Christmas fanatics, flock away! Rachel Silva, ELLE Decor, 7 Aug. 2023 Back in Russia, Sergey had been an art historian, a true fanatic of art, his passion being sculpture, particularly wooden sculpture. Lara Vapnyar, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023
The roll call of films ranges from the highbrow to the decidedly grungy, the menu of a true movie fanatic. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep. 2023 To point to the existence of a few fanatic hangers-on is hardly to indict a movement or its methods. Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 But a little spit-up here and there can’t keep a fashion fanatic down. Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 9 Aug. 2023 Our dog is an intense fetch fanatic and has incredible jaw strength, and this toy has held up to her daily playing for months. Hannah Jones, Country Living, 1 Aug. 2023 Campbell, who turned 47 in April, is still a workout fanatic and brings all kinds of energy to every practice, which is one of the things his players love about him. Andrew Birkle, Detroit Free Press, 23 July 2023 Though he was already known as a Beatles fanatic, Loprete grew up in Cambridge listening to his parents’ recordings of the great Italian-American crooners — Al Martino, Frank Sinatra, and of course the former Anthony Benedetto. James Sullivan,, 21 July 2023 But many of the ideas Leterrier pitched to get the job made their way into the final version of the film, informed by his fanatic knowledge of the characters, themes and motifs that have endeared the franchise to a loyal global audience. Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2023 Joey Votto is a chess fanatic Votto is more than just a baseball player. Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 20 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fanatic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin fanaticus inspired by a deity, frenzied, from fanum temple — more at feast

First Known Use


1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1550, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fanatic was in 1550

Dictionary Entries Near fanatic

Cite this Entry

“Fanatic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


fa·​nat·​ic fə-ˈnat-ik How to pronounce fanatic (audio)
variants or fanatical
: overly enthusiastic or devoted
fanatic noun
fanatically adverb

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