A Dictionary of the English Language
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Fool (noun)

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Fool. n.s. [fsol, Welsh; fol, Islandick; fol, French.]

  1. One whom nature has denied reason; a natural; an idiot.

            Do'st thou call me fool, boy?
    — All thy other titles thou hast given away that thou wast born with.
    Shakespeare's King Lear.

    The fool multitude, that chuse by show,
    Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach,
    Which pry not to the interior.
    Shak. Merchant of Venice.

    It may be asked, whether the eldest son, being a fool, shall inherit paternal power before the younger, a wise man. Locke.

    He thanks his stars he was not born a fool. Pope.

  2. [In Scripture.] A wicked man.

    The fool hath said in his heart there is no God. Ps. xiv. 1.

  3. A term of indignity and reproach.

    To be thought knowing, you must first put the fool upon all mankind. Dryden's Juvenal, Preface.

  4. One who counterfeits folly; a buffoon; a jester.

    Where's my knave, my fool? Go you, and call my fool hither. Shakespeare's King Lear.

    I scorn, although their drudge, to be their fool or jester. Milt.

    If this disguise fit not naturally on so grave a person, yet it may become him better than that fool's coat. Denham.

  5. To play the Fool. To play pranks like a hired jester; to jest; to make sport.

    I returning where I left his armour, found another instead thereof, and armed myself therein to play the fool. Sidney

  6. To play the Fool. To act like one void of common understanding.

    Well, thus we play the fools with the time,
    And the spirits of the wise fit in the clouds
    And mock us.
    Shakespeare's Henry IV. p. ii.

    Is it worth the name of freedom to be at liberty to play the fool, and draw shame and misery upon a man's self? Locke.

  7. To make a Fool. To disappoint; to defeat.

    'Twere as good a deed as to drink when a man's a-hungry, to challenge him to the field, and then to break promise with him, and make a fool of him. Shakes. Twelfth Night.

Sources: Denham, John (75) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (72) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · Locke, John (269) · Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (83) · Milton, John (449) · Pope, Alexander (393) · The Bible - Psalms (29) · Sidney, Philip (140) · Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (36)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Fool (noun)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: October 22, 2012. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/fool-noun/.

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