Fools and apostrophes

Wondering where the apostrophe goes in the name of a certain April day marked by fools? It looks like this:

April Fool’s day

This is how Merriam-Webster has it and is the placement most agreed upon. To me, though, it seems more fitting to have the apostrophe at the end to make it Fools’ (plural). I mean, certainly there is more than one fool who will be at the wrong end of mean and nasty pranks today. Alas, I am not yet an all-powerful guru, where I can change apostrophe placement and have the world listen. So for now, that’s how you spell it.

6 thoughts on “Fools and apostrophes

  1. Thanks for that quickie, Erin.
    OED agrees with the ‘standard’ apostrophe placement used by M-W, and also gives no particular rationale (except to note that it was originally “April Fool Day”). My best guess is that the singular possessive derives from the fact that the original “April Fool” meant the joke itself, so “April Fool’s Day” was the day belonging to the jokes. But the plural possessive (multiple jokes, single day) seems to apply equally well…otherwise each prankster is limited to one joke?
    I guess this is just one of those situation where the exception helps prove the rule, and where convention and custom trump ‘standard’ rules. (I’m deep in the research on a forthcoming post on the status of ‘lay vs. lie’ in contemporary usage, so I can certainly sympathize.)
    Thanks again.
    – Chris


  2. Thanks for that quickie, Erin.
    OED agrees with M-W on the ‘standard’ apostrophe placement, and offers no additional rationale (except to note that the original term was “April Fool Day”). My guess would be that the singular possessive arose because people thought of it as “April Fool’s Day,” the day belonging to the joke. Of course, the plural possessive would apply equally well, unless we’re strictly limiting the gags to one per prankster.
    This just seems to be a situation where the exception helps prove the rule, or where custom and convention trump ‘correct’ usage. (I can certainly sympathize, since I’m deep in the research on contemporary use of ‘lay vs. lie’ for an upcoming post.)
    Thanks again.
    – Chris


  3. I think that it should be April Fool Day only and no possession. It is simply saying that the day is April Fool but the day does not really belong to the fools (or to April Fool).


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