The English word fool appeared in the 13th century and comes from fol (Old French), derived from the Latin follis, ‘bellows’ or ‘inflated ball’ – a fool being a person full of hot air and possibly empty-headed (fol is also the French word for a Blacksmith’s bellows). Folliculus, ‘little bag’ is the diminutive.

Pictured is the tarot’s Fool. Possibly, he’s about to slip off the precipice. Then again, the Pictorial Key to the Tarot says he is wearing ‘gorgeous vestments’ and that ‘he is the spirit in search of experience.’ Not so bad, then, to be a little foolish.

(Image: The Fool tarot card patch, screen-printed on canvas, available from Etsy)

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