fanciful

adjective

fan·​ci·​ful ˈfan(t)-si-fəl How to pronounce fanciful (audio)
1
: marked by fancy or unrestrained imagination rather than by reason and experience
a fanciful person
a fanciful tale of a monster in the woods
2
: existing in fancy (see fancy entry 2) only
a fanciful notion
the falsehoods about some fanciful secret treatiesF. D. Roosevelt
3
: marked by or as if by fancy or whim
gave their children fanciful names
fancifully adverb
fancifulness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for fanciful

imaginary, fanciful, visionary, fantastic, chimerical, quixotic mean unreal or unbelievable.

imaginary applies to something which is fictitious and purely the product of one's imagination.

an imaginary desert isle

fanciful suggests the free play of the imagination.

a teller of fanciful stories

visionary stresses impracticality or incapability of realization.

visionary schemes

fantastic implies incredibility or strangeness beyond belief.

a fantastic world inhabited by monsters

chimerical combines the implication of visionary and fantastic.

chimerical dreams of future progress

quixotic implies a devotion to romantic or chivalrous ideals unrestrained by ordinary prudence and common sense.

a quixotic crusade

Examples of fanciful in a Sentence

a fanciful tale of a monster in the woods They gave all their children fanciful names.
Recent Examples on the Web Her mother making a life around something as simple as eggs and roux is richer to me than the reputation soufflé has earned as precious or fanciful. Lisa Donovan, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2024 The following gifts are a short and sweet selection of that caliber—so fanciful, delightful, and extreme that any beauty lover will be wowed. Margaux Anbouba, Vogue, 20 Dec. 2023 The ink had barely dried on the EU’s AI Act when Margrethe Vestager, one of the EU’s top officials, with the fanciful title of Executive Vice President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, landed in San Francisco in early January to lay out its implications for Big Tech. Vivienne Walt, Fortune, 1 Feb. 2024 February 14—that heart-laden day spun around a fanciful origin tale—somehow still manages to magnify the full spectrum of emotions in any kind of relationship. Talia Abbas, Vogue, 31 Jan. 2024 More than a fanciful romance between two teenage lovers, Girls Will Be Girls is about gendered power. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Jan. 2024 In the following decades, quite independently of the politics swirling around her, Sherman continued to deploy her face and body in fanciful guises that ran the gamut from an Italian Renaissance Madonna to an All-American clown. Nancy Princenthal, New York Times, 24 Jan. 2024 Suddenly, the ultimate goal of Reynolds and McElhenney — getting Wrexham into the top-tier Premier League — might not be so fanciful, after all. Steve Douglas, Fortune Europe, 5 Jan. 2024 To call this fanciful is almost an insult to more garden-variety political fantasies. The Editors, National Review, 15 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fanciful was circa 1627

Dictionary Entries Near fanciful

Cite this Entry

“Fanciful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fanciful. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

fanciful

adjective
fan·​ci·​ful ˈfan(t)-si-fəl How to pronounce fanciful (audio)
1
: having or showing free imagination rather than reason
a fanciful person
a fanciful tale
2
: existing in fancy only
a fanciful notion
fancifully adverb
fancifulness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on fanciful

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