An Important Question About April Fools[‘] Day


Let’s take a break to discuss something important: Is it April Fools or Aprils Fools’? According to the AP style guide, it’s April Fools’. However, Google’s Ngram Viewer, which counts occurrences of phrases in books, tells a different, more nuanced story:

  • April Fools has been more common than April Fools’ for the entire past century.
  • However, April Fools’ Day has been far more common than April Fools Day.

So there you have it. Basically, you can probably punctuate it any way you want. Either way, though, I have some bad news for you: the usage of both terms has skyrocketed since 1960, increasing about 3x relative to everything else. This suggests, sadly, that we’ve all gotten way more obsessed with stupid April Fools jokes in recent years.

But there’s also some good news: usage peaked around 2000 and has gone down over the past decade. Unless this is an artifact of Google’s algorithm (which it might be), perhaps it means that we’re finally getting tired of the whole thing. That’s a nice thought, though I quail at the prospect of what’s probably replacing it in our collective id.

BY THE WAY: The increasing popularity of trying to outfox April Fools-savvy readers by playing jokes on March 31 is no longer clever. Knock it off. If you really think you have something good enough to fool people in an amusing way, it should be good enough to work on April 1.

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