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fool or court jester, a person who entertains with buffoonery and an often caustic wit. In all countries from ancient times and extending into the 18th cent., mental and physical deformity provided amusement. Attached to noble and royal courts were dwarfs, cripples, idiots, albinos, and freaks. The medieval court fool was seldom mentally deficient. For the freedom to indulge in satire, tricks, and repartee, many men of keen insight and caustic wit obtained powerful patronage by assuming the role of fool. This role was played in the courts of the East, in ancient Greece and Rome, and in the court of Montezuma. The clown or jester was common in Elizabethan drama (e.g., the Fool in King Lear), and by donning the fool's garb the actor gained the freedom of the fool. His costume, which was hung with bells, usually consisted of a varicolored coat, tight breeches with legs of different colors—occasionally a long petticoat was worn—and a bauble (mock scepter) and a cap which fitted close to the head or fell over the shoulders in the form of asses' ears. Till Eulenspiegel and Robin Goodfellow are mythical fools.


See B. Swain, Fools and Folly (1932); E. Welsford, The Fool (1936, repr. 1961); S. Billington, A Social History of the Fool (1984).

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(formerly) a professional jester living in a royal or noble household
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


Fool's Lisp. A small Scheme interpreter.
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"He feels this is a turning point in his life and he is determined not to reoffend again." Mark Phillips, prosecuting, said Mills had been drinking heavily when he went into the supermarket and the staff thought he was "acting the fool" as he knocked over a stand.
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When asked about his drinking habits, for instance, one drinker who had admitted that he had been "arms length acting the fool" said snidely, "Probably there is witnesses that would know more about it than I do--because they have kept an accoun t of it and I have not." [70] Other husbands allied with the saloonkeepers, alliances that often did the saloonkeepers' cases more harm than good by illustrating to juries the extent to which the drinkers lacked concern for their own families' financial well-being.
The widely-seen tapes, Goldhirsch explained, were not examples of the students cursing, but "acting out a role." For his part, however, principal Mitchell testified that he only saw "white folks video-taping black students acting the fool." School board president Leslie Hogshead concurred, contending that she saw nothing "racial" in distributing a press release that called the tapes "a violation of our black community."
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Speaking yesterday, as she chatted to passengers using the Metro at the Gateshead Interchange and the Monument, she said: "I found on some days that, although no one was threatening, there were a group of young folk who were having a drink and a good time and acting the fool and it's understandable how somebody would feel vulnerable.