capricious = whimsical, fanciful

Chinese Su

Senior Member
Chinese
capricious
SYNONYMS
fickle, inconstant, changeable, variable, unstable, mercurial, volatile, erratic, vacillating, irregular, inconsistent, fitful, arbitrary
impulsive, temperamental, wild, ungovernable
whimsical, fanciful, flighty, wayward, quirky, faddish, freakish
unpredictable, random, chance, haphazard
capricious | Synonyms of capricious by Oxford Dictionaries Thesaurus

I understand that whimsical has the meaning of "acting or behaving in a capricious manner". But I don't have a clue how capricious is connected to whimsical and fanciful etc. that carry the definition of "playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way." :confused: Thank you :)
 
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  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The same action or thought could be regarded as whimsical or capricious depending on your point of view. "Whimsical" generally has positive connotations, "fanciful" is fairly neutral, but lightly disapproving in tone, and "capricious" is negative. Since we cannot see other people's motives behind their behaviour, who is to say whether in the person's mind they are acting whimsically or capriciously?

    Never think that synonyms mean that the words mean the same thing. The best way to regard a synonym is that there is one particular situation where either word could be used, but even then it might not carry exactly the same meaning. There are probably many situations where the other word could not possibly be used.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    I suppose all these adjectives, apart from perhaps fanciful, contain the idea of inconstancy. If you're looking for an exact meaning, you'll probably get a different answer depending on who you ask, Su.
    Of the four adjectives you give, I'd say that capricious is nearest in meaning to whimsical. There's a degree of overlap. I'd say a capricious person is inconsistent in the kind of decisions he makes. Whimsical is similar, but the idea of playfulness is stronger. If he weren't so capricious, we could perhaps get a sensible decision out of him. I was being whimsical (I was acting on a whim) when I asked her for a date, so I was surprised when she accepted.
    Fanciful has the idea of unrealistic. The idea that there'll ever be complete peace on the planet is just fanciful.
    Fickle and impulsive have negative overtones. I don't associate them with playfulness.
     
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    Chinese Su

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The same action or thought could be regarded as whimsical or capricious depending on your point of view. "Whimsical" generally has positive connotations, "fanciful" is fairly neutral, but lightly disapproving in tone, and "capricious" is negative. Since we cannot see other people's motives behind their behaviour, who is to say whether in the person's mind they are acting whimsically or capriciously?

    Never think that synonyms mean that the words mean the same thing. The best way to regard a synonym is that there is one particular situation where either word could be used, but even then it might not carry exactly the same meaning. There are probably many situations where the other word could not possibly be used.
    I suppose all these adjectives, apart from perhaps fanciful, contain the idea of inconstancy. If you're looking for an exact meaning, you'll probably get a different answer depending on who you ask, Su.
    Of the four adjectives you give, I'd say that capricious is nearest in meaning to whimsical. There's a degree of overlap. I'd say a capricious person is inconsistent in the kind of decisions he makes. Whimsical is similar, but the idea of playfulness is stronger. If he weren't so capricious, we could perhaps get a sensible decision out of him. I was being whimsical (I was acting on a whim) when I asked her for a date, so I was surprised when she accepted.
    Fanciful has the idea of unrealistic. The idea that there'll ever be complete peace on the planet is just fanciful.
    Fickle and impulsive have negative overtones. I don't associate them with playfulness.
    Wow, I have learned a lot from your comprehensive explanations! I understand!:idea:

    Thank you both so much, Uncle Jack and Rhitagawr :D
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    capricious
    SYNONYMS
    fickle, inconstant, changeable, variable, unstable, mercurial, volatile, erratic, vacillating, irregular, inconsistent, fitful, arbitrary
    impulsive, temperamental, wild, ungovernable
    whimsical, fanciful, flighty, wayward, quirky, faddish, freakish
    unpredictable, random, chance, haphazard
    It's best to approach these lists as:
    fickle, impulsive, whimsical and unpredictable are synonyms of capricious
    and
    inconstant, changeable, variable (etc.) are synonyms of fickle;
    temperamental, wild (etc.) are synonyms of impulsive;
    and so so and so on:)
     

    Chinese Su

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    We're glad to be of help.
    That's very nice of you! Thank you, Rhitagawr :p

    It's best to approach these lists as:
    fickle, impulsive, whimsical and unpredictable are synonyms of capricious
    and
    inconstant, changeable, variable (etc.) are synonyms of fickle;
    temperamental, wild (etc.) are synonyms of impulsive;
    and so so and so on:)
    Oh, I see!!! I've never thought about that :eek: :idea: Thanks so much for such helpful information, Ewie :D
     
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