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The meaning and origin of the expression: Fancy free

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Fancy free

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Fancy free'?

To be 'fancy free' is to be without any ties or commitments.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Fancy free'?

Portrait of William Shakespeare'Fancy free' is one of the numerous words and expressions coined by William Shakespeare and is first found in A Midsummer Nights Dream, 1598:

OBERON:
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quench'd in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.

In Tudor England the word 'fancy' meant 'amorous inclination'. So, to be 'fancy free' was to be unencumbered by thoughts of love and free to do as one pleased. That meaning of the word was later used by Alfred Lord Tennyson in the poem Locksley Hall:

In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

The extended term 'footloose and fancy-free' was coined in 19th century America. An early example of it in print is found in a January 1877 edition of the Daily Arkansas Gazette:

Footloose, fancy free, but of marriageable age.

See other - phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.

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