Word of the Day : November 14, 2018


noun tahm-FOO-luh-ree


: playful or foolish behavior

Did You Know?

In the Middle Ages, Thome Fole was a name assigned to those perceived to be of little intelligence. This eventually evolved into the spelling tomfool, which, when capitalized, also referred to a professional clown or a buffoon in a play or pageant. The name Tom seems to have been chosen for its common-man quality, much like Joe Blow for an ordinary person or Johnny Reb for a soldier in the Confederate army, but tomfoolery need not apply strictly to actions by men. In Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (1908), for example, Marilla Cuthbert complains of Anne: "She's gadding off somewhere with Diana, writing stories or practicing dialogues or some such tomfoolery, and never thinking once about the time or her duties."


The antics in the play itself apparently inspired tomfoolery behind the scenes as well, as cast members reported a host of practical jokes including a few on opening night.

"Presented as an oral history in a series of conversations between the couple, the book features anecdotes, hijinks, photos, and a veritable grab bag of tomfoolery." — Brandy McDonnell, NewsOK.com, 1 Oct. 2018

Name That Synonym

What synonym of tomfoolery begins with "f" and ends in "o" and is also the name of a lively Spanish or Spanish-American dance to music that includes guitar and castanets?



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!