A Fool’s Paradise Meaning
Definition: A feeling of happiness that one has because one is ignorant of the negative aspects of a situation.
Origin of Fool’s Paradise
This expression goes back to the 1400s. It first appeared in the year 1462, in a collection of letters from William Paston, agentry in England.
- I wold not be in a folis paradyce.
However, it most likely became more popular when the famous English playwright William Shakespeare used it the late 1500s, in his play Romeo and Juliet.
The idiom comes from the definition of fool, meaning an ignorant person, and paradise, meaning a wonderful place of contentment.
For example, a man might find himself on a beautiful island with many tropical fruits, and be very happy to be there, as long as he didn’t know there were man-eating tigers moments away from attacking him. Therefore, what seems like a paradise is actually not, due to a lack of knowledge about the situation, or false beliefs.
Examples of Fool’s Paradise
The dialogue below shows two university students discussing the classes they enrolled in.
Nisha: How do you like your new classes this semester?
Alan: They’re great! I especially like Professor Mahoney’s class! He is so smart and interesting, and every class I learn lots of new things.
Nisha: Well, I hate to tell you this, but you are living in a fool’s paradise.
Alan: What do you mean?
Nisha: Professor Mahoney is likeable, but he always gives his students terrible grades. Even the smartest students walk away with a lower GPA than they had before they took his class.
The second dialogue shows a father and son discussing the economy.
Son: Why don’t you want me to buy a house?
Dad: Because houses are extremely expensive right now, but the housing bubble is about to burst. Soon the price of housing is going to fall precipitously. It’s better to wait a little bit.
Son: Why do you think that? The economy is better than it’s ever been, and it’s only going to get better and better!
Dad: If you truly think that then you are living in a fool’s paradise.
The excerpt is from an article that describes the history of two famous criminals.
- Hickock bragged of his fool’s paradise plan to become an Acapulco fisherman. All he needed was a decent score to square him up financially. –New York Daily News
This excerpt is about trends in investments.
- Potentially, two months from now people still aren’t going to see realized volatility and will say, ‘See, there you go, these products are a fool’s paradise,’ ” he says. “But it’s hard for me to believe volatility never comes back.” –Wall Street Journal
The phrase a fool’s paradise means a dreamland a person imagines himself to be in when he doesn’t know or doesn’t believe the negative aspects of the situation.