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Extraordinary vs. Fantastical — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on May 18, 2024
Extraordinary refers to something very unusual or remarkable, while fantastical describes something imaginative or based on fantasy.
Extraordinary vs. Fantastical — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Extraordinary and Fantastical


Key Differences

Extraordinary is used to describe something that stands out due to its remarkable nature. It often implies a positive connotation, highlighting achievements or events that are significantly above the norm. For example, an extraordinary talent refers to an exceptional skill set. Fantastical, on the other hand, refers to things that are imaginative or derived from fantasy. It is often used in contexts related to fiction or mythical scenarios. For instance, a fantastical story involves elements of magic or otherworldly phenomena, making it more about creative imagination than reality.
Extraordinary experiences are rooted in real life but are noteworthy because they are rare or impressive. These experiences could include extraordinary acts of kindness or extraordinary natural events. In contrast, fantastical experiences are more about the surreal and whimsical, often found in literature, movies, or art that explore magical realms.
While extraordinary can be used in formal or everyday language to describe real events or achievements, fantastical is more commonly used in artistic or literary contexts to evoke a sense of wonder or the impossible. This makes fantastical less common in practical day-to-day conversation.

Comparison Chart


Very unusual or remarkable
Imaginative or based on fantasy

Usage Context

Real life, achievements, rare events
Fiction, fantasy, mythical scenarios


Positive, impressive
Whimsical, surreal

Language Level

Formal, everyday
Artistic, literary

Example Phrase

Extraordinary talent
Fantastical story

Compare with Definitions


Very unusual or remarkable.
She showed extraordinary bravery during the rescue.


Imaginative or based on fantasy.
The novel is filled with fantastical creatures.


Noteworthy for being exceptional.
His extraordinary performance won him the award.


Extraordinary in an imaginative way.
The movie depicted a fantastical world.


Remarkable in a positive way.
The scientist made an extraordinary discovery.


Unrealistic or improbable.
His explanation sounded too fantastical to be true.


Going beyond what is usual or regular.
The chef prepared an extraordinary meal for the guests.


Relating to fantasy fiction.
She enjoys writing fantastical stories.


Surpassing the ordinary.
The athlete's skills are extraordinary.


Based on or existing only in fantasy; unreal
Fantastic mythological creatures.
The fantastic realms of science fiction.


Very unusual or remarkable
It is extraordinary that no consultation took place
The extraordinary plumage of the male


Strange or fanciful in form, conception, or appearance
“The fire assumed fantastic shapes as he watched” (Ward Just).


(of a meeting) specially convened
An extraordinary session of the Congress


Unrealistic; irrational
“the early jubilant years of the Restoration with their fantastic hopes of a Golden Age and incorruptible power” (Janet Todd).


An item in a company's accounts not arising from its normal activities.


Exceedingly great in size or degree; extravagant
A fantastic sum of money.


Beyond what is ordinary or usual
Extraordinary authority.


Wonderful or superb; remarkable
A fantastic trip to Europe.


Highly exceptional; remarkable
An extraordinary achievement.


An eccentric person.


Employed or used for a special service, function, or occasion
A minister extraordinary.
An extraordinary professor.


Of or pertaining to fantasy.


Not ordinary; exceptional; unusual.


Fanciful or whimsical.


Remarkably good.
An extraordinary poet




Special or supernumerary.
The physician extraordinary in a royal household
An extraordinary professor in a German university


Fanciful; unreal; whimsical; capricious; fantastic.


Anything that goes beyond what is ordinary.


Existing in fancy only;
Fantastic figures with bulbous heads the circumference of a bushel


Beyond or out of the common order or method; not usual, customary, regular, or ordinary; as, extraordinary evils; extraordinary remedies.
Which disposeTo something extraordinary my thoughts.


Ludicrously odd;
Hamlet's assumed antic disposition
Fantastic Halloween costumes
A grotesque reflection in the mirror


Exceeding the common degree, measure. or condition; hence, remarkable; uncommon; rare; wonderful; as, extraordinary talents or grandeur.


Surreal or whimsical.
The artist's work has a fantastical quality.


Employed or sent upon an unusual or special service; as, an ambassador extraordinary.


That which is extraordinary; - used especially in the plural; as, extraordinaries excepted, there is nothing to prevent success.
Their extraordinary did consist especially in the matter of prayers and devotions.


Beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable;
Extraordinary authority
An extraordinary achievement
Her extraordinary beauty
Enjoyed extraordinary popularity
An extraordinary capacity for work
An extraordinary session of the legislature


Far more than usual or expected;
An extraordinary desire for approval
It was an over-the-top experience


(of an official) serving an unusual or special function in addition to those of the regular officials;
An ambassador extraordinary

Common Curiosities

How is fantastical used in literature?

Fantastical is used to describe elements that are imaginative or based on fantasy.

Are extraordinary and fantastical synonyms?

No, extraordinary refers to remarkable real-life events, while fantastical refers to imaginative or fantasy elements.

Can extraordinary describe negative events?

Yes, extraordinary can describe both positive and negative events, as long as they are remarkable.

Is fantastical commonly used in everyday language?

No, fantastical is more often used in artistic or literary contexts.

Can a real event be described as fantastical?

Typically, fantastical is reserved for imaginative or surreal descriptions, not real events.

What is a fantastical element in a story?

A fantastical element includes magical creatures or otherworldly settings.

What does extraordinary mean?

Extraordinary means very unusual or remarkable.

Are extraordinary events common?

No, extraordinary events are rare and notable.

Is fantastical always positive?

Fantastical is generally neutral but can evoke a sense of wonder or whimsy.

Does fantastical imply impossibility?

Fantastical often implies elements that are improbable or surreal.

How can I use extraordinary in a sentence?

e.g., Her extraordinary achievements were recognized globally.

What type of fiction is described as fantastical?

Fiction that involves fantasy, magic, or surreal elements is described as fantastical.

Can you describe an extraordinary person?

An extraordinary person is someone who is exceptionally talented or remarkable in some way.

What is the tone of a fantastical narrative?

A fantastical narrative often has a whimsical or imaginative tone.

Can extraordinary be used formally?

Yes, extraordinary is appropriate for both formal and informal usage.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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