I am reading the Wikipedia entry for Clown, as for some reason I thought they would be close to Religion historically, and found this sentence

"It seems plausible that folly and fools, like religion and magic, meet some deeply rooted needs in human society."

Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clown history section

What does "folly and fools" mean in this sentence, as I can not see how the standard meaning would fit in. It seems to me that it may mean Clown to some extent but cant be sure.


1 Answer 1


Fool, as well as meaning a foolish person, used to be another word for a court jester (someone employed to entertain a king or high-ranking person).

Oxford definition 2: HISTORICAL - a jester or clown, especially one retained in a royal or noble household.

Folly is the state of being a fool, or the activities of fools.

  • "It seems plausible that the kind of comedy that jesters/clowns provide meets a deeply-rooted need in human society, in the same way that religion and magic do." Aug 4, 2022 at 12:05
  • Folly & fool may be more than kith & kin here, more than alliteration and emphasis without added meaning. Maybe folly here means native joy, childlike silliness, and the sheer release we all appreciate from fun. Aug 4, 2022 at 12:35

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