spiffy vs. fancy

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Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
One of my professors said the following:

More noninstructional administratos, staff, and dollars are needed to keep up with the demands for better atheltic facilities, spiffier dining and lodging, travel abroad programs, information technology systems, alumni relations and more.

I looked up the word "spiffy" and found that its origin is about smart dressing. I wonder whether it collocates with things other than clothes. Is there a difference between spiffy and fancy? I am assuming that spiffy dining and lodging means fancy restaurants and state-of-art dorms.
  • brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Spiffy was popular when I was in high school, about 6 years ago. I no longer ever hear it, so either it has mostly died out, or it stayed back in high school. Maybe teens still say it.


    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    "Spiffy" doesn't quite mean fancy.

    Note the WordReference definition of spiffy:
    dapper, dashing, jaunty, natty, raffish, rakish, smart, spiffy, snappy, spruce
    marked by smartness in dress and manners; "a dapper young man"; "a jaunty red hat"
    Frankly, "spiffy" sounds odd to me. I don't believe that it is at all common these days. I would not expect to see it in formal contexts.


    New Member
    English - USA
    If someone were dressed up, I might say, "Don't you look spiffy today?" to mean that he looks sharp; took a special interest in his appearance. I have also used the word "spiffy" as a verb, as in, "we need to spiffy up the house" when company is coming, which means we need to clean and shine up the place; however, I don't think "spiffier" was the right word choice to describe hotels or restaurants. I would have used "fancier". Spiffy refers to only to appearance whereas fancy can also refer to the quality of something; "fancier" meaning higher quality (and therefore higher priced).
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