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foolscap

noun fools·cap \ˈfülz-ˌkap\

Definition of foolscap

  1. 1 :  a cap or hood usually with bells worn by jesters

  2. 2 :  a conical cap for slow or lazy students

  3. 3 usually foolscap [from the watermark of a foolscap formerly applied to such paper] :  a size of paper formerly standard in Great Britain; broadly :  a piece of writing paper



Did You Know?

These days, we are most likely to encounter foolscap as a reference to a sheet of paper or, more specifically, to a sheet of paper that is similar in size to a sheet of legal paper. In the mid-1600s, when the use of foolscap was first attested to in English, we would have encountered it as a reference to an actual fool's cap-the cap, often with bells on, worn as part of a jester's motley. How did we get from this colorful cap to a sheet of paper? The connection is attributable to the former use of a watermark depicting a fool's cap that was used on long sheets of writing or printing paper. There are various explanations for the introduction of this watermark-including the claim that a 1648 British parliamentary group substituted it for the royal arms during exceptionally turbulent times-but such explanations remain unsupported by historical facts.

Illustration of foolscap

1602

First Known Use of foolscap

1602

Variants of foolscap

also

fool's cap

play \ˈfülz-ˌkap\

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