Posted by Jessamyn on July 10, 1997 at 12:03:44:
In reply to Re: "Folly" posted by Mark on July 09, 1997 at 09:43:16
] 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.
The OED says the following:
A popular name for any costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder. R. Wendover says that when (in 1228) a castle which Hubert de Burgh had begun to build, near the Welsh border, had to be razed to the ground on account of a treaty concluded with the Welsh, much amusement was excited by the recollection that Hubert had given to the building on its foundation the name of 'Hubert's Folly.' It was remarked that he had shown himself a true prophet.
[What a great story! Interesting how early it takes place. -J]
Probably the word used by Hubert was F. folie; the original meaning seems to have been . . . "delight," "favorite abode." Many houses in France still bear the name La Folie, and there is some evidence that 'the Folly' was as late as the present century used in some parts of England for a public pleasure-garden or the like.
[So I think there is no definitive answer, what? -J]
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