Flight of Fancy – Meaning, Origin, Examples

flight of fancy meaning and examples, explained below

The idiom “flight of fancy” is used to describe a scenario or idea that is highly imaginative and unrealistic. It often refers to daydreams, whimsical thoughts, or ideas that are unlikely to be realized.

This idiom is frequently used to describe scenarios or ideas that are not grounded in reality, often reflecting an individual’s imaginative or whimsical thought process.

For example, if someone is imagining a highly unlikely or impractical scenario, it might be referred to as a “flight of fancy.”

chrisAbout the Author: has a PhD in Education. He has been a teacher in schools and universities and has taught English as a Second Language in Colombia. He is former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

Flight of Fancy Idiom Origins

The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the 1600s. The term “fancy” during this time was often used to refer to love or the imagination, particularly an imagination that was whimsical or fantastical.

The word “flight” in this context refers to the act of flying, symbolizing the idea of thoughts or imagination soaring or taking off.

The below graph demonstrates the remarkable longevity of this idiom, remaining popular over the lifespan of Google’s historical dataset. This is a very uncommon looking graph as the idiom has held steady over time:

Here’s a brief overview of its origin:

  • 1600s Terminology: The term “fancy” was commonly used to describe imagination or love, particularly of a whimsical or fantastical nature. The combination of “flight” and “fancy” symbolized the idea of the imagination taking off or soaring to new heights.
  • Imaginative Exploration: The idiom was used to describe scenarios or ideas that were not grounded in reality but were instead products of an imaginative mind. It reflected the human ability to imagine and dream beyond the confines of reality.

Today, when someone mentions a “flight of fancy,” it typically refers to an idea or scenario that is imaginative, whimsical, and unlikely to be realized.

15 Examples in a Sentence

  • “Building a house on Mars is just a flight of fancy for now.”
  • “Her idea of traveling around the world in 80 days was a flight of fancy.”
  • “The concept of time travel remains a flight of fancy in the scientific community.”
  • “Writing a novel about an underwater civilization was his latest flight of fancy.”
  • “The idea of a flying car remains a flight of fancy for many inventors.”
  • “Creating a utopian society is often considered a flight of fancy.”
  • “His dream of becoming an astronaut was not just a flight of fancy.”
  • “The notion of teleportation is still largely a flight of fancy in science fiction.”
  • “Her painting depicted a flight of fancy, with mythical creatures and enchanted forests.”
  • “The screenplay was filled with flights of fancy, including talking animals and magical realms.”
  • “Designing a city in the clouds might seem like a flight of fancy, but some architects are exploring the idea.”
  • “The concept of a perpetual motion machine remains a flight of fancy for physicists.”
  • “Inventing a language for extraterrestrial communication is a flight of fancy for linguists.”
  • “The idea of colonizing other galaxies is still a flight of fancy in the realm of astronomy.”
  • “Creating a virtual reality world indistinguishable from our own is a flight of fancy for technologists.”

Practice Questions Worksheet for Students

Question 1: If someone has a flight of fancy about living in a castle, what does this imply?

  • a) They are moving into a castle.
  • b) They are daydreaming about an unrealistic scenario.
  • c) They are visiting a castle.
  • d) They are building a castle.

Question 2: Which of the following scenarios can be considered a flight of fancy?

  • a) Planning a weekend getaway.
  • b) Imagining a world with dragons and unicorns.
  • c) Going grocery shopping.
  • d) Studying for an exam.

Question 3: If a scientist has a flight of fancy about discovering a new element, what are they likely doing?

  • a) Conducting experiments to discover a new element.
  • b) Daydreaming about an unlikely discovery.
  • c) Teaching about known elements.
  • d) Writing a research paper on a discovered element.

Question 4: In literature, a flight of fancy often involves:

  • a) Realistic and everyday scenarios.
  • b) Historical facts and figures.
  • c) Imaginative and whimsical ideas.
  • d) Scientific principles and theories.

Similar Idioms

1. Pie in the sky

Definition: An idea or plan that is unlikely to happen.

In a Sentence: “His plan for a new startup seemed like pie in the sky.”

2. Castle in the air

Definition: Daydreaming about something that is unlikely to happen.

In a Sentence: “Building a time machine is just a castle in the air.”

3. Head in the clouds

Definition: Being unrealistic or overly optimistic.

In a Sentence: “She has her head in the clouds if she thinks she can finish that project in a day.”

4. Wild goose chase

Definition: A futile pursuit or search.

In a Sentence: “Looking for the lost treasure turned out to be a wild goose chase.”

5. Chasing rainbows

Definition: Pursuing unrealistic or unattainable goals.

In a Sentence: “He’s always chasing rainbows, hoping to make it big in Hollywood.”

6. Pipe dream

Definition: An unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme.

In a Sentence: “Winning the lottery is just a pipe dream for most people.”

7. Daydreaming

Definition: A dreamlike musing or fantasy while awake.

In a Sentence: “She spent the afternoon daydreaming about traveling the world.”

8. In a world of one’s own

Definition: Preoccupied with one’s own thoughts and fantasies.

In a Sentence: “He’s in a world of his own, always imagining new inventions.”

9. Building castles in the sky

Definition: Creating unrealistic, impractical plans or dreams.

In a Sentence: “She’s always building castles in the sky, dreaming of a life of luxury.”

10. On cloud nine

Definition: Extremely happy or optimistic.

In a Sentence: “He’s been on cloud nine since he got the promotion.”

11. Over the moon

Definition: Extremely pleased or happy.

In a Sentence: “She was over the moon when she found out she got the job.”

12. In seventh heaven

Definition: In a state of extreme happiness or bliss.

In a Sentence: “He was in seventh heaven after his wedding day.”

13. Chasing shadows

Definition: Pursuing something unattainable or insubstantial.

In a Sentence: “He spent years chasing shadows, trying to prove his conspiracy theories.”

14. In a bubble

Definition: Isolated from reality or practical considerations.

In a Sentence: “Living in a bubble, she was unaware of the struggles of others.”

15. Chasing the wind

Definition: Engaging in futile tasks or pursuits.

In a Sentence: “Trying to convince him was like chasing the wind.”

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