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Whatever tickles your fancy

Posted by R. Berg on February 27, 2001

In Reply to: Meaning and origin posted by Jerry Vaughn on February 27, 2001

: I've heard a few times the expression:
: "Whatever tickles your fancy." I use it to mean: whatever one likes. Could anyone please provide some examples of origin and meaning for this expression? Thanks a lot!
: Jeery

It DOES mean "whatever one likes." To American sensibilities this expression doesn't make much sense if we are thinking about the individual words. I believe it makes more sense given some British meanings of "fancy" that aren't current in the W. Hemisphere. Extracts (condensed) from the Oxford English Dictionary:

--Caprice, changeful mood; an instance of this, a caprice, a whim. "I have a fancy we go out to-day"

--Capricious or arbitrary preference; individual taste; an inclination, liking, esp. in phrases "to take a fancy to," "to catch the fancy of." "The . . . tune caught the fancy of the nation."

Phrases like "cat fanciers" and "cat fancy" are related to these senses of "fancy."