I am looking for synonyms–the more ‘fanciful’ the better–of "not a fan" as in

  • I'm not a fan of his, but give the man a break!

The expression, “I'm not a fan of his/her” or “I'm no fan of his/hers”, is often used when someone means they dislike a particular person, their views, work or their policies. More often than not, the speaker uses it in a non-derogatory fashion.

  • ... I've really never been a fan of hers. I never disliked her, but was rather ambivalent.

  • All Jenner said was, "I'm out of the loop, I can't say much". I'm not a fan of hers but what's the harm here?

  • “I probably regret going after John McCain as hard as I did on a different format. I'm not a fan of his, but at times I made it more personal than it should be,…”

  • I'm certainly no fan of his myself, but I definitely sympathize with him and shudder to imagine such a horrible end.

I would like users to suggest a more formal way of saying, I'm not a fan of ___. For example,

I'm ________ Jacob Rees-Mogg, the British Conservative MP, but I have to admit his English is flawless.

  • No slang means you are after a possibly formal expression?
    – user 66974
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 9:48
  • @user159691 No slang means no slang. And formal means formal, it's in the bounty message and in the question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 9:57
  • 2
    "I'm not partial to ______"
    – CDCM
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 10:40
  • 3
    "Jacob Rees-Mogg and I have substantial philosophical differences, but..."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 16:13
  • 1
    The question is whether you want to praise with faint damns, or damn with faint praise. Irony allows you to choose your position on the slope between these poles with extreme accuracy. Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 14:51

12 Answers 12


The higher and more intellectual the register, the subtler and less declamatory or assertive the tone generally becomes. In the very highest register, nuanced understatement becomes perhaps the best tool.

Compare the clamor of a frequently misquoted line from Mark Twain,

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!

with his actual statement:

The report of my death was an exaggeration.

Twain used subtlety and understatement to make a funnier and more powerful statement. Through a kind of verbal jiu-jitsu he mocks the news reports (he had worked in journalism himself) while making fun of his own age and circumstances.

I would recommend you similarly use understatement to express your lack of approval for someone. To do so, you might have to abandon your "I'm not a _____ of so-and-so" construction to use something a bit less direct and a bit more polished. Using litotes can help you here as well.

I tend to place Mr. So-and-so beneath a pedestal, but ...
Mr. So-and-so is not really my idol, but ...
While perhaps no paragon himself, Mr. So-and-so ...

And so on.


My favorite expression to use in this case would be I don't particularly care for, as in:

I don't particularly care for Moby's style of Electronica, but it's undeniable that his single Porcelain was very well received around the world.


I hold no brief for...

Not support or argue in favour of.
Oxford Living Dictionaries

I'm not enamored of...

(US enamor)
1.1 Have a liking or admiration for.

  • 3
    I like your suggestions very much, but some users give newcomers no slack. Please add two dictionary links. Here's one link en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/hold_no_brief_for
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 21:00
  • Hold or have works for brief. The metaphor has to do with the British legal/political system, and originally briefs were written and passed around like other writs. Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 14:49

"Not a fan of" sounds informal because of the word fan, a shortening of fanatic, which is a slang term from the late 19th century.

I would therefore use a more formal sounding synonym of "fan".

Something like "I am not a supporter of..."

Other possible formal sounding synonyms for fan; adherent, devotee, disciple, or proponent.


"I would not chair a gala event for her but..."

"I wouldn't ever nominate her for a Nobel Peace Prize but..."

"I'd never name her as Godmother to my children but..."

"I'd probably not speak on her behalf at a parole hearing but..."

Along those lines?

Edit: Sorry for no citations but these are just self-made phrases that should be well understood that only someone who is a "fan of" the other person would consider doing for them.


Consider: “not partial to”:

partial adjective 3 (partial to) Having a liking for. - ODO

partial to idiom : liking something or someone very much and usually more than other things or people I'm not partial to red wine. - M-W

Your sample sentence would read:

  • I'm not (particularly) partial to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the British Conservative MP, but I have to admit his English is flawless.

How about "I'm not a devotee of..." According to this Oxford Dictionary, a devotee is defined as:

A person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about someone or something.

‘a devotee of Lewis Carroll’


Why don't you say "I'm indifferent to" which could replace "I am not a fan of".


A more formal and elaborate equivalent of “not a fan of + N” would be the following

  • not an admirer of [something/someone] as a rule

[on receiving the news of Sir Robert Peel's death] The Duke of Wellington, not an admirer of politicians as a rule but now reduced almost to tears, told the Lords, ‘I never knew a man in whose truth and justice I had a more lively confidence, or in whom I saw a more invariable desire to promote the public service.’

However that construction is quite verbose, a shorter and more common variant is

“I am not an admirer of + sth / so”

@Robusto's answer mentions litotes, and the following citations are good examples of the English understatement.

Benjamin Disreli, 1860, leader of the Conservative Party, and twice Prime Minister.

“I am not an admirer of contemporary biography, and I dislike to be the subject of it.”

H. M. Bateman, British artist and cartoonist, The Tatler 1919 (Although I didn't find any sources that supported the citation's authenticity.)

“I‘m not an admirer of people who draw like Picasso. I feel his influence has been a bad one, demoralising. It’s reducing the world to a farmyard.”

Sir David Tweedie, former chairman of the IASB

Recalling a trip to the country at the invitation of the government, he said he was stopped by an immigration officer who was “not an admirer of the Brits.” After 10 minutes of interrogation, the officer asked Tweedie if he had a criminal record.
“I replied: ‘I didn’t realize I still needed one to get into Australia.’”

William Dalrymple, Scottish historian and writer

“I'm not an admirer of this government. It's Mussolini without the trains running on time.”

Looking at the statistics, Google Books Ngram chart clearly shows that "not an admirer of" has been in use since the 19th century, only in the 1960s did its modern-day equivalent, "not a fan of", really sweep the deck. Note the disparity between the British English (green line) and the American English (blue line) usage where "not a fan of" is nearly three times as popular.

Google Ngram chart


I have 2 suggested phrases built around the same word; one is superficially formal, the other is genuinely snooty.

Ambivalent is rarified enough that it injects some formality. People generally take it to mean "I know enough bad about this subject that I don't fully approve."

So an average person trying to sound formal might say: "I'm ambivalent to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the British Conservative MP, but I have to admit his English is flawless."

However ambivalent is actually a bit more precise than that; combining 'ambi' and 'valent' conveys the sense of awareness of both sides of an issue, or being equally aware of opposing strong points.

So a real word snob would know to say: "I'm ambivalent to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the British Conservative MP, thus I have to acknowledge that his English is flawless."

... and if someone dared to contradict their grammar extra snooty-points could be accumulated by informing the unwashed pleb of the true sense and meaning of a word they wrongly assumed they understood.


Quite often, the longer the phrase is, the more formal it sounds. Thus, you might find you can sound more formal by noting something specific about which you are not a fan.

You can also add verbal fluff to extend the sentence needlessly, which metaphorically thins out the negativity and leaves the reader needing to infer it much more than see it.

Additionally, you can use weasel words to soften the blow, while still landing it. Most people will unconsciously consider a weasel-worded insult to be overtly weaker, while still seeing it as being subtly just as strong.

For instance, I might re-write your example like this:

While I may not agree with many of the questionable policies of British Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, I have to admit his English is flawless.

I've taken the essence of the first half, which is to say, "I think Jake is an idiot," and smeared it across so many words that it becomes difficult to pin the actual insult on any single one of them.

It's really the worst kind of wordplay and manipulation, but it is regrettably necessary sometimes in order to save one's own face.



I Really Don't Like...
I Fucking Hate...
No Me Gusta....
I Seriously Do Not Enjoy...


I'm not a follower of...
I don't cotton to....

The last one considered a little homespun, but each to her own fancy.

  • 7
    These suggestions may be fanciful, but they’re certainly not formal by any stretch of the imagination. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 20:03

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