AskDefine | Define fantasy

Dictionary Definition



1 imagination unrestricted by reality; "a schoolgirl fantasy" [syn: phantasy]
2 fiction with a large amount of fantasy in it; "she made a lot of money writing romantic fantasies" [syn: phantasy]
3 something many people believe that is false; "they have the illusion that I am very wealthy" [syn: illusion, phantasy, fancy] [also: fantasied]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. That which comes from one's imagination
  2. The literary genre generally dealing with themes of magic and fictive medieval technology.

Related terms


Extensive Definition

Fantasy is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of technological and macabre themes, respectively, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three (collectively known as speculative fiction).
In its broadest sense, fantasy comprises works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians, from ancient myths and legends to many recent works embraced by a wide audience today.

Traits of fantasy

The identifying traits of fantasy are the inclusion of fantastic elements in a self-coherent (internally consistent) setting. Within such a structure, any location of the fantastical element is possible: it may be hidden in, or leak into the apparently real world setting, it may draw the characters into a world with such elements, or it may occur entirely in a fantasy world setting, where such elements are part of the world.
Within a given work, the elements must not only obey rules, but for plot reasons, must also contain limits to allow both the heroes and the villains means to fight; magical elements must come with prices, or the story would become unstructured.
American fantasy, starting with the stories chosen by John W. Campbell, Jr. for the magazine Unknown, is often characterized by internal logic. That is, the events in the story are impossible, but follow "laws" of magic, and have a setting that is internally consistent.


details History of fantasy see also Sources of fantasy
Beginning perhaps with the Epic of Gilgamesh and the earliest written documents known to humankind, mythic and other elements that would eventually come to define fantasy and its various subgenres have been a part of some of the grandest and most celebrated works of literature. From The Odyssey to Beowulf, from the Mahabharata to The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, from the Ramayana to the Journey to the West, and from the Arthurian legend and medieval romance to the epic poetry of the Divine Comedy, fantastical adventures featuring brave heroes and heroines, deadly monsters, and secret arcane realms have inspired many audiences. In this sense, the history of fantasy and the history of literature are inextricably intertwined.
There are many works where the boundary between fantasy and other works is not clear; the question of whether the writers believed in the possibilities of the marvels in A Midsummer Night's Dream or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight makes it difficult to distinguish when fantasy, in its modern sense, first began.
Although pre-dated by John Ruskin's The King of the Golden River (1841), the history of modern fantasy literature is usually said to begin with George MacDonald, the Scottish author of such novels as The Princess and the Goblin and Phantastes (1858), the latter of which is widely considered to be the first fantasy novel ever written for adults. MacDonald was a major influence on both J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. The other major fantasy author of this era was William Morris, a popular English poet who wrote several novels in the latter part of the century, including The Well at the World's End.
Despite MacDonald's future influence with At the Back of the North Wind (1871), and Morris's popularity with his contemporaries, it wasn't until the turn of the century that fantasy fiction began to reach a large audience. Edward Plunkett, better known as Lord Dunsany, established the genre's popularity in both the novel and the short story form. Many popular mainstream authors also began to write fantasy at this time, including H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling and Edgar Rice Burroughs. These authors, along with Abraham Merritt, established what was known as the "lost world" sub-genre, which was the most popular form of fantasy in the early decades of the 20th century, although several classic children's fantasies, such as Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, were also published around this time.
Indeed, juvenile fantasy was considered more acceptable than fantasy intended for adults, with the effect that writers who wished to write fantasy had to fit their work in a work for children. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote many early works verging on fantasy, but in A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys, intended for children, wrote fantasy. For many years, this and successes such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), created the circular effect that all fantasy works, even the later The Lord of the Rings, were therefore classified as children's literature. unsourced section In 1923 the first all-fantasy fiction magazine, Weird Tales, was created. Many other similar magazines eventually followed, most noticeably The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The pulp magazine format was at the height of its popularity at this time and was instrumental in bringing fantasy fiction to a wide audience in both the U.S. and Britain. Such magazines were also instrumental in the rise of science fiction, and it was at this time the two genres began to be associated with each other.
By 1950 "sword and sorcery" fiction had begun to find a wide audience, with the success of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian and Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. However, it was the advent of high fantasy, and most of all the popularity of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the late 1960s, that allowed fantasy to truly enter the mainstream. Several other series, such as C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books, helped cement the genre's popularity.
The popularity of the fantasy genre has continued to increase in the 21st century, as evidenced by the best-selling status of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. Several fantasy film adaptations have achieved blockbuster status, most notably The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.


unsourced section
For more details on this topic, see fantasy art, fantasy literature, fantasy film, and fantasy television.
Fantasy is a popular genre, having found a home for itself in almost every medium. While fantasy art and recently fantasy films have been increasingly popular, it is fantasy literature which has always been the genre's primary medium.
Fantasy role-playing games cross several different media. The "pen & paper" role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons was the first and is arguably the most successful and influential, though the pseudo-science fantasy role-playing game series Final Fantasy has been an icon of the console role-playing game genre.


details Fantasy subgenres Modern fantasy, including early modern fantasy, has also spawned many new subgenres with no clear counterpart in mythology or folklore, although inspiration from mythology and folklore remains a consistent theme. Fantasy subgenres are numerous and diverse, frequently overlapping with other forms of speculative fiction in almost every medium in which they are produced. Noteworthy in this regard are the science fantasy and dark fantasy subgenres, which the fantasy genre shares with science fiction and horror, respectively.


Professionals such as publishers, editors, authors, artists, and scholars within the fantasy genre get together yearly at the World Fantasy Convention. The World Fantasy Awards are presented at the convention. The first WFC was held in 1975, and it has occurred every year since. The convention is held at a different city each year.
Additionally, many science fiction conventions, such as Florida's FX Show or MegaCon, also cater to fantasy and horror fans; and anime conventions, such as JACON or Anime Expo frequently feature showings of fantasy, science fantasy, and dark fantasy series and films, such as Cardcaptor Sakura (fantasy), Sailor Moon (science fantasy), xxxHolic (dark fantasy), and Spirited Away (fantasy). Many science fiction/fantasy and anime conventions also strongly feature or cater to one or more of the several subcultures within the main subcultures, including the cosplay subculture (in which people make and/or wear costumes based on existing or self-created characters, sometimes also acting out skits or plays as well), the fan fiction subculture, and the fan vid or AMV subculture, as well as the large internet subculture devoted to reading and writing prose fiction and/or doujinshi in or related to those genres.


External links

fantasy in Bulgarian: Фентъзи
fantasy in Czech: Fantasy
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fantasy in Estonian: Imeulme
fantasy in Esperanto: Fantasto
fantasy in Persian: فانتزی
fantasy in French: Fantasy
fantasy in Korean: 판타지
fantasy in Italian: Fantasy
fantasy in Hebrew: פנטזיה
fantasy in Latvian: Fantāzijas literatūra
fantasy in Lithuanian: Maginė fantastika
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fantasy in Japanese: ファンタジー
fantasy in Norwegian: Fantastisk litteratur
fantasy in Norwegian Nynorsk: Fantasy
fantasy in Polish: Fantasy
fantasy in Portuguese: Fantasia (gênero)
fantasy in Romanian: Fantasy
fantasy in Russian: Фэнтези
fantasy in Albanian: Fantazia
fantasy in Simple English: Fantasy
fantasy in Slovak: Fantasy
fantasy in Serbian: Фантастика
fantasy in Finnish: Fantasiakirjallisuus
fantasy in Swedish: Fantasy
fantasy in Thai: แฟนตาซี
fantasy in Ukrainian: Фентезі
fantasy in Yiddish: פאנטאזיע
fantasy in Chinese: 奇幻小说

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Marchen, Walter Mitty, Western, Western story, Westerner, absence of mind, absentmindedness, absorption, abstractedness, abstraction, adventure story, alienation, allegory, apologue, apparition, appearance, ardor, autism, autistic thinking, avoidance mechanism, be absent, bedtime story, bemusement, bizarrerie, blame-shifting, boutade, brainchild, brainstorm, brown study, bubble, capriccio, caprice, castle-building, chimera, compensation, conceit, conceiving, concoction, concupiscence, crank, craze, crazy idea, creativity, crotchet, curiosity, daydream, daydreamer, daydreaming, decompensation, defense mechanism, delirium, delusion, depth of thought, dereism, dereistic thinking, desideration, desire, detective story, displacement, dissociation, divagate, dream, dream of, dreaming, drive, eagerness, eidolon, emotional insulation, enchantment, engrossment, envisioning, escape, escape into fantasy, escape mechanism, escapism, fable, fabliau, fad, fairy tale, fancy, fantasizing, fantasque, fantastic notion, fantasticism, fantasying, ferlie, fiction, figment, figure, fit of abstraction, flight, flight of fancy, flimflam, folk story, folktale, fool notion, form, freak, freak out, freakish inspiration, fumes of fancy, gest, ghost story, go woolgathering, grotesquerie, hallucination, harebrained idea, hope, horme, horse opera, humor, idle fancy, idolum, illusion, image, imagery, imagination, imaginativeness, imagining, insubstantial image, intellectual curiosity, invention, inventiveness, isolation, kink, legend, libido, love story, lust for learning, maggot, make-believe, masquerade, megrim, mind, miracle, mirage, moon, mooning, moonraking, muse, musefulness, musing, muted ecstasy, mystery, mystery story, myth, mythology, mythos, need, negativism, nightmare, notion, nursery tale, originality, overcompensation, parable, passing fancy, passion, phantasm, phantasma, phantasmagoria, phantom, pipe, pipe dream, pipe-dream, pipe-dreaming, pleasure, pleasure principle, preoccupation, presence, prodigy, projection, psychotaxis, quirk, rainbow, rationalization, resistance, reverie, romance, science fiction, sexual desire, shade, shadow, shape, shocker, sick fancy, sign, sociological adjustive reactions, space fiction, space opera, specter, stargaze, stargazing, stray, study, sublimation, substitution, suspense story, thick-coming fancies, thirst for knowledge, thriller, toy, trance, trip, urge, vagary, vapor, vision, waking dream, wander, want, wanting, whim, whim-wham, whimsy, whodunit, wildest dream, wildest dreams, will, will and pleasure, wish, wish fulfillment, wish-fulfillment fantasy, wishful thinking, withdrawal, wonder, wonderwork, woolgathering, work of fiction, wraith
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