April Fools' Day

April 1, a day when practical jokes or tricks are played on unsuspecting people. Also called All Fools' Day.
[1825-35]

* * *

or All Fools' Day

First day of April, named for the custom of playing practical jokes on that date.

Though it has been observed for centuries in several countries, including France and Britain, its origin is unknown. It resembles the Hilaria festival of ancient Rome (March 25) and the Holi festival of India (ending March 31). The custom of playing April Fools' jokes was brought to America by the British.

* * *

▪ social custom
also called  All Fools' Day 

      in most countries the first day of April. It received its name from the custom of playing practical jokes on this day—for example, telling friends that their shoelaces are untied or sending them on so-called fools' errands. Although the day has been observed for centuries, there are different explanations for its origin. It resembles festivals such as the Hilaria of ancient Rome, held on March 25, and the Holi celebration in India, which ends on March 31. The modern custom may have originated in France when the Gregorian calendar, which moved New Year's Day from March 25 to January 1, was adopted in 1582. Those who continued to celebrate the end of New Year Week on April 1 were referred to as fools. The timing of the day also may be related to the vernal equinox (March 21), a time when people are said to be fooled by sudden changes in the weather.

      There are variations between countries in the celebration of April Fools' Day, but all have in common an excuse to make someone play the fool. In France, for example, the fooled person is called poisson d'avril (“April fish”), perhaps in reference to a young fish and hence to one that is easily caught; it is common for French children to pin a paper fish to the backs of unsuspecting friends. In Scotland the day is Gowkie Day, for the gowk, or cuckoo, a symbol of the fool and the cuckold, which suggests that it may have been associated at one time with sexual license; on the following day signs reading “kick me” are pinned to friends' backs. In many countries newspapers and the other media participate—for example, with false headlines or news stories.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • April Fools' Day — n also All Fools Day April 1st, a day when people play tricks on each other …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • April Fools' Day — n. April 1; All Fools Day, when practical jokes are played on the unsuspecting …   English World dictionary

  • April Fools' Day — April Fools ,Day noun count or uncount April 1, a day when people try to trick each other, especially by making other people believe something that is not true …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • April Fools' Day — This article is about the informal holiday. For other uses, please see April Fool s Day (disambiguation) or April Fool. April Fools Day An April Fool hoax in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2001, featuring its new metro Also called …   Wikipedia

  • April Fools' day — noun the first day of April which is celebrated by playing practical jokes • Syn: ↑April Fools , ↑All Fools day • Hypernyms: ↑day • Part Holonyms: ↑April, ↑Apr * * * noun …   Useful english dictionary

  • April Fools' Day — UK / US noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms April Fools Day : singular April Fools Day plural April Fools Days 1st April, a day when people try to trick each other, especially by making other people believe something that is not true …   English dictionary

  • April Fools' Day — noun The first day in April, when tricks and practical jokes are traditionally played Syn: All Fools’ Day, hunting the gowke, hunt the gowk See Also: April fool, Childermas …   Wiktionary

  • April Fools' Day — A′pril Fools ′ Day n. April 1, when jokes or tricks are traditionally played on the unsuspecting • Etymology: 1825–35 …   From formal English to slang

  • April Fools' Day — o All Fools Day (inglés: día de los tontos de abril). Primer día de abril, llamado así por la costumbre de hacer bromas pesadas en esa fecha. Aunque se ha celebrado durante siglos en varios países como Francia y Gran Bretaña, su origen es… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • April Fools' Day — noun 1 April; the day observed by playing jokes on unsuspecting people …   Australian English dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.