What does fancy mean? I'm interested in positive and negative meanings, and when to use it. I've tried to search it by myself, but there are lot of variants.


I have an example of usage. If I show some project, or new feature to my customer, and he comments it something like "It's kind of fancy". As I understand from the context, it has positive meaning, but how can I more precisely identify his thoughts?


1 Answer 1


In the context of a product demo "it's kind of fancy" is ambiguous. It depends on context, and you may want to ask for clarification.

  1. It could be positive: there are more features than expected, it goes beyond minimum expectations and offers extra effort or extra value, it is not plain (bad), it is fancy (better).
  2. It could be mildly negative: it is more fancy as in complicated (bad) than expected rather than simple and straightforward (good), or it is fancy as in decorated or ornamental (bad) which might get in the way of being functional (good).

So a fancy car may have desirable extra features; a fancy hammer may be silly.

  • The word has many meanings, in many contexts, not least in the divide between British and American English. A 'fancy' diamond is one that has a single color, the spectrum ranging from canary yellow, to cobalt blue, through rosy pink, etc. A good specimen of a fancy diamond is worth much more than its better known colorless counterpart in size, cut and clarity. Nov 26, 2016 at 8:22
  • 2
    @PeterPoint Yes -- and interesting example! And "fancy" can even be used as verb. However my answer was specifically responding to the project demo context given in VladHatko 's "example of usage." Nov 26, 2016 at 8:28
  • Quite so. Point taken. Nov 26, 2016 at 9:04
  • The meaning might also depend on the customer's taste. Showing a house with a bit of decorative plasterwork to someone with a taste for minimalism might get them to say "It's kind of fancy" in a negative way. Showing the same house to someone with a taste for lots of decoration might elicit the response "I'd rather have something a bit fancier". You can't please all of the people all of the time, as many people have said!
    – BoldBen
    Nov 26, 2016 at 12:38
  • @BoldBen Wasn't that 'fool' all the people, etc...? I guess you can with half of the people as we saw on November 8 last. Nov 26, 2016 at 15:24

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