April fool [Antedating to 1629]

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 2 01:23:19 UTC 2014

For "April fool" the OED has as its first meaning "[t]he victim of a
trick or hoax on the first of April" and gives as its earliest example
a usage from 1693 (Congreve's "That's one of Loves April-fools, is
always upon some errand that's to no purpose") with the comment that
there the phrase appears in a figurative context.  (I suppose one
assumes that Congreve's "April-fools," even used figuratively, has a
connection to the first of April.)

Along that line, then, here's an earlier usage of the phrase ("Aprill foole").

No, seriously.

-- Bonnie


[The following transcription is that found at EEBO.]

To him that hath ministred the occasion of this booke.

TO one, of the two papers which you had from me long agoe, you haue
shaped, as it seemeth, a kind of answere; yet not an answere neither,
for you send him that would haue one, to looke it in other men that
are in print. For my part, I was not willing at the sight of yours
(which I espied by meere chaunce, and neuer sawe but once) to be made
an Aprill foole, and therefore would not be so farre at your commaund.
Yet to declare that I was not satisfied, Presumed the chiefe question,
out of which the rest are easilie resolued; and disputed it more at
large: putting downe the conclusions together with their grounds; and
maintaining them against that which your self, or your abettors haue
obiected. I endeuoured to do this briefly; but it so fared with me in
this intellectuall businesse, as it doth with such as breede: the
child in the natiuitie is much bigger then at the conception: the
matter I speake of heere, hath an inward inclination to dilate it
self, and whilst I was writing, the discourse prooued a booke.


Author: Lechmere, Edmund, d. 1640?
Title: A disputation of the Church wherein the old religion is
maintained. V.M.C.F.E.
Date: 1629
Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 15348
Bibliographic name / number: Allison & Rogers. Catholic Books, 443. /
Physical description: [16], 454 [i.e. 448] p.
Copy from: Bodleian Library
Reel position: STC / 1315:03

[Images of the title page and page 6, which bears "Aprill foole," can
be found for the next week or so at http://ow.ly/vjCIS.]

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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