Posted by ESC on April 19, 2002
In Reply to: Tom Foolery... caution for the uninitiated. posted by TheFallen on April 19, 2002
: : It is also the Cockney rhyming slang for jewellery. Like most rhyming slang it then gets shortened to Tom
: One of those opening statement posts, rather than a question. A word of caution though, for those who might attempt a little Dick Van Dyck if in London. Tomfoolery does indeed mean jewellery, and is often shortened to tom, as in "that's a nice bit of old tom she's got round her neck". However, also shortened to tom is the far less pleasant piece of Cockney rhyming slang, a "tom tit", meaning a bowel movement, except a tad more pithily expressed (excuse the unfortunate phrase). So the moral is, be cautious when in the East End of London.
TOMFOOL - "A clumsy, witless fool, fond of stupid practical jokes. Hence 'tomfoolery.'" From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).