I think I know what the verb 'fancy' means (feel a desire or liking for). But does 'fancy being' here have a different meaning?

One needs to be audacious to proceed where no-one has gone before – and trail-blazers are often castigated for their effrontery. Fancy being ridiculed or ostracized for ascertaining the facticity of something ... for establishing a fact. (ref)

  • 3
    Idiomatically, "fancy" as a verb can mean "imagine or suppose," as here: "Imagine [yourself] being ridiculed or ostracized..."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


As Sven mentioned, the verb fancy here means to imagine. It doesn’t here mean the secondary sense to like as it sometimes can (nor even the rather less common tertiary sense of to breed, as in pigeon fanciers or orchid fanciers).

The paywalled OED entry gives these relevant subsenses:

I. With reference to mental conception.

  1. trans.

    • 1a. To frame in fancy; to portray in the mind; to picture to oneself; to conceive, imagine. Also (with notion of fancy n. 3), to suppose oneself to perceive.

    [subsenses 1b, 1c, and 1d omitted]

    • 1e. In colloq. use often in the imperative as an exclamation of suprise. Also absol.

So this is an example of sense 1e; it’s being used as imperative exclamation of surprise much as if had been written:

Why, just imagine being ridiculed!

  • Well fancy that, I just upvoted this answer!
    – barbecue
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 0:22
  • 1
    I'm not so sure; it seems at least equally possible (given the style of writing) that this is the 'Imagine yourself in the [challenging] situation where ...' sense. Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 13:56

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