Happy April-fool-day

My seemingly innocent retweet of Grammar Girl this morning gave rise to a lengthy discussion of personal preference regarding the apostrophe in “April Fools’ Day.” Or “April Fool’s Day.” Or “April Fools Day.”

Grammar Girl is careful to check multiple sources, and she found agreement on the plural possessive construction. But one publisher disagrees. The good people at Oxford University Press prefer “April Fool’s Day” on both sides of the Atlantic.

For some reason, the issue struck a nerve, and many people decided to weigh in. So, as we never had a hashtag for the discussion, I’ve cut and pasted the tweets and retweets below. This is just a quickly edited compilation, so please forgive me for any spacing and punctuation issues. For best results, zip down to the bottom and read up.

******************

@Allen02: @EditorMark April Fools’ Day is my birthday. Because I wish to share the glory (rather than be singled out as the fool) I prefer the plural

@PurplePenning:@EditorMark After all this discussion, I think they’re laughing at us. ;-)

But are we laughing at them or with them? RT @PurplePenning: Seems no-apostrophe form follows AP on descriptive phrases: day FOR fools.

RT @PurplePenning: @EditorMark Seems like no-apostrophe form (Aprils Fools Day) follows AP guide for descriptive phrases: day FOR fools, no apostrophe.

RT @PurplePenning: @EditorMark To avoid an untenable editing position, should proponents of the Oxford comma embrace the Oxford apostrophe? ;-)

@kristy_campbell @EditorMark No joke. Son did report on origin of holiday – chose 1 over many. I’ll be moving the apostrophe going forward. Makes more sense.

Sometimes I play one on Twitter. RT @corb21: @EditorMark so, are you saying you’re a fool?

RT @Compain: Cost prohibitive. RT @EditorMark: I’m all for it! RT @corb21: April Fool’s Day would be ok, if we bought presents for fools …

No joke? RT @kristy_campbell: I thought it a celebration of a singular fool who didn’t mark the new calendar ordered by the Pope.

RT @KARENPRGIRL: We already have Election Day. RT @corb21: April Fool’s Day would be ok, if we bought presents for fools on that day….

I’m all for it! RT @corb21: April Fool’s Day would be ok, if we bought presents for fools on that day….

OED’s earliest reference: “No wise man will tell me that it is not as reasonable to fall out for the observance of April-fool-day” (1753).

RT @FrancisAdams14: @EditorMark I’ll rephrase, rewrite, recast to do away with ambiguity: All Fools Day.

RT @AvrilFoole: @EditorMark I vote for April’s Fool day, so we can have one every month.

RT @MetaPhoenix: We can argue if the correct spelling is Fool’s or Fools’. Either is acceptable. The former is more aesthetically pleasing.

RT @4ndyman: @EditorMark: Can we call it April Fools’s Day, in honor of all those fools who don’t know how to use an apostrophe anyway?

And multiple fools. RT @paxr55: re: Mother’s Day. Yes, but we usu. have but 1 mother. Cf “my [singular] mother” and “our [plural] veterans”

It’s a style question. So, take your pick, but be consistent. (But majority says plural possessive.) RT @FrancisAdams14: What’s your take?

But, “Mother’s Day.” RT @paxr55: Yes. Cf. Veterans Administration RT A vote for nonpossessive April Fools / via @corb21 … All Saints Day … .

And another: RT @DistantHopes: Why does there have to be ownership of a Day? Could it not just be … dedicated to the plurality of fools?

A vote for nonpossessive: RT @corb21: I’d look to other examples …All Saints Day for one…it’s not All Saint’s Day. I think April Fools Day.

RT @tao_of_grammar: @EditorMark I like “Fools’” because it assumes multiple fools and a day just for them (us).

Touche! RT @lburwash: @EditorMark NYPL says “Fools’.” Canadian Press says “Fool’s.” Hmm, clearly more fools in the US. ; )

Interesting. Checked 4 other style guides—no entries. RT @StanCarey: Oxford Manual of Style: “April Fool’s Day (one fool) *not* Fools’ (US)”

Again, those Oxfordians: RT @lburwash: @EditorMark Canadian Oxford Dictionary, my go-to for Canadian spellings, says “Fool’s.”

I can’t find an entry in the Chicago Manual of Style, but the Facebook page goes with “Fools’.” http://bit.ly/aTnc38

Oh, interesting! The debate heats up: RT @jennhoegg: @EditorMark CP stylebook goes with “Fool’s.” [Does CP have preferred dictionary?]

AP Stylebook also says “Fools’.” Oxford folks stand alone. RT @jennhoegg: I am reassured there is now consensus, because I prefer Fools’.

It’s “April Fool’s Day” according to Oxford American and OED. But American Heritage, WNW, M-W, Macmillan dictionaries prefer “Fools’.”

Oops, a point of contention for we word fools: RT @OrangeXW: At least one dictionary lists “April Fool’s Day (also April Fools’ Day).” .

RT @GrammarGirl: The proper spelling is “April Fools’ Day.” Really. No joke.


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3 thoughts on “Happy April-fool-day

  1. If you are speaking to one you have fooled, then it’s
    April Fool’s Day
    If you have fooled two or more, then it’s
    April Fools’ Day

  2. Thanks for compiling these, Mark. Usage advice too often takes the form X is correct and Y is incorrect, but the more sources that can be included in a judg(e)ment, the better.

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