In Reply to: Playing the fool posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 19, 2010 at 23:19:
: : In watching the TV show The Tudors I came across a surprising moment. Henry criticized his motley for a poor play at cards. The error was having "played the Fool" as in The Fool card of the Tarot deck. What game were they playing? and...
: : Did the Play the Fool phrase originate with card play?
: : Anybody?
: The original use of the tarot pack was for games-playing, not divination, and the game of tarot/tarock/tarocco is still played in many countries of Central Europe. Click on this link for a description of the game:
: There is no connection with the phrase, however. To "play the fool" means "to act the fool" - "player" in the 16th century being a synonym for "actor". (VSD)
I found the expression in the Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. But there was no explanation/origin.