Footloose and fancy-free

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Footloose and fancy-free is an idiom. We will examine the meaning of the common saying footloose and fancy-free, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Footloose and fancy-free describes someone who has no attachments, someone who is free to make any choice, someone who has no responsibilities or commitments. Both footloose and fancy-free came into use separately in the 1600s. Footloose originally meant free to move one’s feet. It’s idiomatic meaning, to be able to make one’s own choices without considering any responsibilities, came into use in the 1800s. Fancy-free originally meant to be lacking in romantic attachments. By the 1800s, the word fancy-free came to mean lacking in any attachments. The two words were joined together into one idiom in the United States around 1880s.


The footloose and fancy-free generation has strong discretionary spending power, a target for consumer goods companies. (South China Morning Post)

While a bachelor is simply defined as, “a man who has never married,” it carries with it a whole host of connotations of being a player, a stag, footloose and fancy-free (a genuine thesaurus-listed synonym). (Cosmopolitan Magazine)

Now when you’re 22 and footloose and fancy free, you might not think people who are old count that much, but we do. (Seymour Tribune)