Using the Idiom- FANCY THAT!

IELTS Speaking Tips

Hi Everyone,

While teaching English to my IELTS class the other day, a funny situation occurred with the idiom ‘fancy that’.

It was referring to a conversation between two people and the person commented ‘fancy that!’ They were referring to an incident where the ending was different to what they imagined or had predicted or strange and unusual. In this case you could use the words ‘fancy that’ to mean ‘how peculiar’.

Now, we all know that the word ‘fancy’ by itself is an adjective used to describe something ‘posh’ or ‘extra-special’ or ‘luxurious’. Perhaps something that cost a lot of money or something that you would use only on special occasions. ‘Look at that fancy car!’ Or ‘We don’t often eat at fancy restaurants because we don’t have a lot of money’.

Funnily enough though, the word ‘fancy dress’ does not mean ‘luxurious’ dress or even ‘expensive’ dress, it does however mean ‘special clothes’ or a ‘costume’ that you might wear to a party such as a Halloween party or a 1970s disco party!

But did you know that another use of the word fancy can be illustrated like this: You could ask someone if they fancy something to eat or drink, or to do something with you. In this case, it would be similar to asking them if they would like something to eat or drink, or if they would like to do something with you. 

For example, you could ask your guest if they would like a cup of tea and fancy a biscuit with it. The person is asking if you would like a biscuit with your tea. 

You could also say ‘do you fancy tea or coffee?’ or ‘do you fancy watching a movie on TV?’ To put simply, it is a fancy way to ask someone if they would like something. Imagine such a small word having so many meanings, fancy that!

Have you ever heard or used this idiom? Tell us when...

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Extra practice: Look up the bold italicized words above in your dictionary.