How to Punctuate April Fools: April Fool’s Day or April Fools’ Day?

Is there a correct way to punctuate April Fools’ Day? Should it be April Fool’s Day or April Fools’ Day?

Depending on the dictionary you use, you may or may not see both listed.

For example, the Oxford English Dictionary shows April Fool’s Day under its “April” entry but not April Fools’ Day. The American Heritage Dictionary lists April Fools’ Day but not April Fool’s Day. And Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary lists April Fools’ Day with April Fool’s being a variant of the name. So which one is correct?

April Fool’s vs. April Fools’

Since both variants are found in well-esteemed dictionaries, both are probably acceptable, but certain people may have preferences for one or the other. For example, AP Style and Chicago Style both call for the use of April Fools’ Day when writing the holiday in text. If you are using either of these two styles, clearly you would not write April Fool’s Day.

April-fools-Day-punctuationI happen to agree with The AP Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style because the plural possessive seems to make more logical sense here. There are multiple fools in the world for which April Fools is their holiday. Following this same logic would also explain why the holiday is sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day because there are many many fools and this is their day. And unlike Father’s Day, April Fool’s Day is not meant to be a holiday directed at individuals but, rather, the entire lot of fools in the world. This is why I would advise anyone writing a paper to use April Fools’ Day, not April Fool’s Day.

Although, the most important thing to remember is stay consistent in your writing. If you are not clear as to whether you are using AP Style or Chicago Style and you find yourself writing “April Fool’s Day,” do not also use “April Fools’ Day.” Pick one way to write it and stick with it for your entire piece.

It should also be noted that April Fools’ Day is a holiday and should therefore always be capitalized, so any “April fools’ day” or “April Fools’ day” are incorrect.

April Fool!

After you have pulled a prank on someone on April Fools’ Day, what should you shout at that person? Well, most of the time you will hear people say, “April fools!” but this is actually incorrect. The actual expression, however, is “April fool!” April fool is the victim of a joke or trick played on April 1st. For example,

  • Greg was waiting outside ready to shout, “April fool!”

When saying “April fool” in this sense, there is no need to capitalize “fool” because the “fool” that is being referred to is a common noun.

To sum up, both April Fool’s Day and April Fools’ Day are acceptable, but April Fools’ Day is usually preferred in writing and should be used when you aren’t exactly sure what style of writing you are using.

See also, how to spell Father’s Day, how to spell Presidents’ Day.

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