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  • Category: Improve Your English

    Who is Tom in Tomfoolery?


    Is the name Tom related to Tomfoolery? How did the word Tomfoolery originate? In what contexts is it used today? Is it related with the popular Tom and Jerry cartoons? Discuss about Tomfoolery over here,

    We use the word Tomfoolery when somebody is clowning around, generally being mischievous in a harmless manner. I would like to know how the name Tom came into the word foolery as its prefix. Who is Tom? What is the origin of his presence in the word? Has it anything to do with the Tom and Jerry cartoons?

    The genuine answer of course is what I want to know, but a few witty remarks & unique possible reasons that are within forum etiquette guidelines too are welcome!
  • #573855
    Tom is a very ordinary name. Generally, any ordinary person would be a silly person too. Tom is a British word representing the word Tommy which means a British soldier. British soldiers are funny and witty soldiers who fight with their might. Tomboy is a girl who enjoys the rough, funny and noisy activities of a boy. Tomfoolery is silly behaviour connected with an ordinary, innocent and funny behaviour. We cannot enjoy life without such Toms in our life. We name our pets like dogs and cats as 'Tommy' for their silly behaviour with their boss.
    No life without Sun ¤

  • #573857
    One thing is clear that the component Tom of the word 'Tomfoolery' has not come from the phrase 'Tom, Dick and Harry' which is generally used to describe a group of unspecified people.
    The history says that 'Thome Fole' was a name assigned to individuals perceived to be of little intelligence in the in the Middle ages like the name 'Lallu' in the northern parts of India. The name 'Thome Fole' gradually got evolved into the spelling tomfool used to describe a professional clown or a buffoon in a play or pageant.

    Let us encourage each other in sharing knowledge.

  • #573880
    Tom is used as a generic, symbolic, representative name for an ordinary male. In every place there will be a more common name for men and women. Even now when the novelists and cinema makers try to portray certain stereotype characters they use the common representative names to convey the actual effect of the character. It is there in every language or every region.
    In that was Tom (which is like the common name Thomas) stands for a generic ordinary male person. Its commonness can be seen from the usage 'every Tom, Dick and Harry'. In archaic usage, a girl who behaves like a boy is called tomboy. A male cat is called Tomcat.
    Some people who may not have steady job, earning etc resort to various small tricks to earn even by begging and may 'fool around' to pass time. As Tom was a common name these people used to have either as original or assumed for disguise, they were called as Tomfools and their activities tomfoolery.
    However I do not give that attribute to Tomato or I do not think that TOMorrow is male characteristic. It is also a general belief that women generally 'tom tom' about anything especially the gold and dresses they purchased recently. I am yet to fathom then why poor 'Tom' is used for that. But then, Tomahawk is more meaning ful for a male because it was the male responsibility to fight it out. However when Tom comes in edn what is the significance- like custom?

    ==================================
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  • #573943
    Ah! A question, I did not expect to see here. Who is Tom and what is his connection with tomfoolery?

    I share here, what I can recollect from a discussion during an English lecture. Shakespeare's works were part of our course study. We were made to read all of his works and it was common to have lively discussions on our interpretations (sometimes in the graveyard, sitting on graves, surrounded by tall swaying pine and rhododendron trees, mist engulfing us – I'm getting nostalgic here).

    My English professor was a gold medallist right through her college life and had also penned many books. It was while we were exchanging views on King Lear that the discussion drifted to Tom the Fool. Those who have read King Lear would be familiar with the character of Tom the Fool. Apparently, 'tomfoolery' is a term coined after the character of Tom the Fool. This is what my professor (who was an alumna of University of Oxford) told us.

    A fool will always try to make sense of his nonsense!

  • #579102
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    “Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.” - Paul Terry

  • #579144
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    K Mohan
    I consider myself as the learner everyday


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