Posted by Mark on July 09, 1997 at 09:43:16:
In reply to Re: "Folly" posted by Claire on July 08, 1997 at 20:38:32
] ] ] I have often read the word "folly" apparently alluding to a building of sorts. It seems to me to be a facade, or a sham, made in the likeness of some complicated architectural structure, but I don't know, and it has puzzled me for a long while. I would appreciate knowing, finally, just what is it. Please.
] ] ] Claire
] ] Actually, in this case the word "folly" is descended fron a French word meaning "hidden". Depending on the period they could be elaborate (full scale miniature cottages) or simple (a gazebo, for example) structures meant to shelter people from the sudden summer showers or snowstorms. As they grew more elablorate some of them became whimsical or just ugly, so "follies" came to have a bad name.
] ] Cassia
According to Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary, "folly" is from the Middle English "folie" which is from old French "fol" which means fool. The first sense is "lack of good sense of normal prudence and foresight". The fifth sense is "an often extravagant picturesque building erected to suit a fanciful taste." So according to this source, "folly" originally meant what we normally subscribe to it, and it was only later that the term was applied to a building.
I would be interested to know what the OED says.
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