Growing up, my dad would say to me, “I don’t want any tomfoolery”. I always assumed this meant he didn’t want me to misbehave. Technically, it refers to foolish behavior or nonsense (also good advice, I suppose).
Its first recorded use was in 1812 and it stems from the Middle English Thom Foole, personification of a mentally deficient person. Tom Foolery also happens to be the name of a musical revue based on the songs of Tom Lehrer that opened in London in the 1950s. Lehrer, in addition to being a thirsty spirit, is a mathematician, teacher, composer, singer-songwriter, pianist and satirist who graduated from Harvard at the age of 18. I’ve read that his favorite drink is a gin martini and he’s the self-proclaimed inventor of the Jell-O shot.
One of the songs in the first act is titled, “Bright College Days” and Lehrer muses about college drinking:
Hearts full of youth, hearts full of truth
Six parts gin to one part vermouth
That sounds like tomfoolery to me.
One response to “Tom Foolery”
I’m glad you remembered something from your youth.