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Tomfoolery is a word that goes back hundreds of years. It is a closed compound word, which is a word composed of two separate words that were used together so often that they eventually became melded into one word. We will look at the meaning of the term tomfoolery, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Tomfoolery means acting foolish, speaking foolishly, buffoonery. The plural form of the word tomfoolery is tomfooleries. The term dates back to a time when it consisted of two words, Tom fool. As far back as the 1300s, the term Tom fool was used to denote a person in a story who was stupid or a buffoon. The term was soon applied to a person who made his living as a fool, who was a sort of comic employed by the king or a nobleman. At this time, the name Tom was often employed as a sort of every man in names such as Tom piper or Tom tailor. One sees this today in the nursery rhyme Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son. Currently, the name Joe fulfills this purpose as in Joe sixpack. Tomfoolery is also Cockney rhyming slang for the word jewelry.


Advocates of empirical science must remain steadfast in the face of growing dogmatic and political tomfoolery. (The Redmond Reporter)

How she and the rest of the family adjust to their new zombie-mom are guaranteed to produce some hijinks and tomfoolery. (The Badger Herald)

The next phase in his epic odyssey was the birth of his two amazing children, Susan Kay and Jay Michael, whom he constantly caught trying to sneak out of the house to engage in tomfoolery. (The Kewanee Star Courier)