foolscap

noun
fools·cap | \ˈfülz-ˌkap \
variants: or less commonly fool's cap

Definition of foolscap 

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

2 : a conical cap for slow or lazy students

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

Illustration of foolscap

Illustration of foolscap

foolscap 1

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 early 17th century, 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.

First Known Use of foolscap

1602, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of foolscap was in 1602

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