or follies

[fol-ee] or [fol-eez]

What does folly mean?


A folly is a foolish action. Follies can refer to various unwise practices, buildings with a purely ornamental purpose, or cabaret-style theatrical revues featuring lots of beautiful, dancing women.

Examples of folly


Examples of folly
This new cast recording for #Follies from @NationalTheatre is everything. Perfection.
@hanskig88, January 2019
If Aberdeenshire councillors press ahead with this decision they will have learned nothing from the folly of Angus Council. My ward borders Angus and I see for myself how formerly busy car parks are now lying empty in a council concocted wasteland.
Leigh Wilson quoted by Graeme Strachan, The Courier, January 2019
Very Demotivational

Where does folly come from?

Very Demotivational

The word folly dates back to the early 13th century, originally meaning “foolishness” or “unwise conduct.” It comes from a French word meaning “mad,” as in “deranged.” In its plural form, follies has referred to “absurdities” since at least the 1400s.

Make a Meme

By the 1650s, a folly referred to buildings considered too whimsical, overly expensive, or impractical. In the 18th and 19th centuries, some follies were constructed in Europe as ornamental structures reminiscent of antiquity; others, as in Ireland, were built to provide employment for laborers during famines, such as Connolly’s Folly (below).

Ilja Klutman / Wikimedia

By the 1880s, follies referred to an extravagant theatrical production brimming with pretty girls. They were inspired by the Parisian Folies Bergère, which were over-the-top cabaret productions that began in 1872 and continue today. A noted example of the follies was the Ziegfeld Follies, which ran on Broadway from 1907 to 1936 and featured the gorgeous, well-dressed Ziegfeld girls.



Who uses folly?

Foolish, impractical behavior—perhaps like oh, needlessly shutting down the government to build a wall at the borderis often described as a folly.

The unusual, impractical architectural follies built in Ireland have become off-beat tourist attractions.

Curious Ireland

Theatrical follies have seen something of a renaissance with the 2017 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1971 musical Follies at the Royal National Theatre in London. The show tells the story of the demolition of the fictional Weismann Theatre and the reunion of the showgirls of the Weismann Follies. The production was a smash hit, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival in 2018.

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