Grammar

Don’t Forget an Apostrophe in April Fools’ Day!

A closeup of a sticky note with "Kick Me" written on it and taped to a man's backDeposit Photos

The first day of April is a day known for shenanigans. But if you write out its name, don’t forget the apostrophe: It’s April Fools’ Day!

You can never go wrong in fact-checking what you read these days. But if you could think of a day where extra fact-checking would be prudent, April Fools’ Day would surely qualify.

The story behind April Fools’ Day

The occasion comes every April 1, though its origins are a bit mysterious. It’s believed to date back all the way to the Middle Ages.

WRAL-TV quoted a 1760 parody periodical Poor Robin’s Almanac, which featured this little lyric:

The First of April some do say

Is set apart for all Fool’s [sic] Day

But why the people call it so

Nor I nor they themselves do know.

The day was also known as “All Fools’ Day,” but we’ve managed to forget that alternate name today.

But the excerpt misplaced the apostrophe. It goes after the S. That means April Fools’ Day uses the plural possessive, suggesting the day belongs to multiple April fools. The Associated Press Stylebook, the style guide newsrooms across the globe rely on, also insists on an apostrophe after the S.

Brittanica gives us a couple of theories about the day’s origins. One takes us back to August 1564 in France. King Charles IX issued the Edict of Roussillon, which set the new year would start on Jan. 1 thereafter rather than on Easter. The change surely eased a bit of confusion, since Easter, as we know, is a moveable date while Jan. 1 only happens on…Jan. 1. It then suggests that those who clung to the old ways of having Easter mark the new year’s start were “April fools.”

A second theory it mentions involves the vernal equinox. It’s a time when sudden changes in the weather fool people.

Of the two, I like the former story better. But maybe that’s just me.

The Los Angeles Times throws out one more little piece of knowledge: Anyone who falls victim to the typical kind of pranks that happen every April 1 would be called an April fool. But in that case, you don’t capitalize the F.

I guess that’s sort of a badge of dishonor. Talk about adding insult to injury!

I hope you don’t fall victim to any pranks this year! Happy April Fools’ Day!

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

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