In the 14th century the name denoted
"the stupid man personified." By the 19th century, the given and surnames had
been fused into an noun denoting any type of stupidity. What word is
Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
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consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
The word tomfoolery (foolish behaviour) derives from Middle
English Thom Foole, the mentally-deficient man
I think foolishness and
stupidity are different. Foolish people can be quite intelligent (Bill Clinton
was foolish to become involved with Monica Lewinsky, but he certainly isn't
The opposite of foolish, I believe, is wise;
the opposite of stupid, intelligent; and the opposite of ignorant, informed. We
use the negative words interchangeably, but inaccurately, I think.
[Mootguy: Good point. Thanks for emphasizing the
kgrimes. at .ferrum.edu
Should be the fusion of given name and surname ("tomfool), plus the
addition of a suffix ("-ery").
[Mootguy: Another good point. If this question makes it into
MooT 2, it will be much better than the one I sent out to the mailing list.
Thanks for the feedback.]
jacko. at .lycos.com
"Tomfoolery", in my experience, has always meant silly or suspicious
behavior - not a stupid person - as in, "What kind of tomfoolery is this?"
cschlaeger at cbburnet.com
Intelligent, informed points these folk make.
Let us dig deeper. From whence does the connotation of Thom Foole as
"mentally-deficient man personified" come? Does anyone know?
yeageka. at .earlham.edu
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