: playful or foolish behavior
"Scott Ferber grew up one of three boys in a house with a strict mother who did not tolerate any tomfoolery." - From an article by Sarah Gantz in the Baltimore Business Journal, October 18, 2013
"People's success also signaled a shift in the overall tone of print journalism, away from the stentorian voice of Time, the literariness of The New Yorker, and the [New Journalism](/dictionary/new journalism) tomfoolery of New York and Esquire, to something looser, more image-saturated, and obviously market-friendly." - From an article by Jim Windolf in Vanity Fair, October 16, 2013
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."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
What is the meaning of the slang word "galoot"? The answer is …