foolscap » fullscape

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “…the ASEC had bought various election materials including indelible ink, double fullscape (DFC), paper ballot boxes, paper seal, metal seal, etc. Some of the items, the indelible ink and double fullscape paper, have limited period of longevity.” ("Assam and the North-East")
  • “One day when Shankar met Javed, Javed handed him four fullscape sheets with the lyrics on them - almost like an essay.” (link)
  • “In presentable English and in a very precise handwriting, she had in four fullscape sheets reached out to them to take up her case with her father.” (The Tribune)

This seems to be most common in Indian or Malaysian English. I suppose this is because it is a commonly used word in those regions, but nobody really is told the origin and meaning of the name — what do fools and caps have to do with paper, after all? ‘Fullscape’ might appear to make more sense… it is a ‘full’ sheet, a full view, as it were. Added to the fact that the common pronounciation is more like ‘fullscap’ rather than ‘foolscap’ (though for some reason, ‘fullscap’ is not as common a misspelling in Asia. But, googling, it appears it does occur in British, Australian and African sources. Anyone up for an analysis on the geography-relative misspelling difference?)

| link | entered by Sravana Reddy, 2005/03/17 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Trevor J. , 2005/03/27 at 9:19 pm

    Don’t know if it’s relevant, but here in Australia, we’ve gradually been shifting to the standardised ISO paper sizes (A3, A4 and all the rest of them) over the last twenty-odd years; foolscap isn’t used for much of anything anymore, and I don’t think anyone but specialist paper & stationery stores would stock it. My point, anyway, is: once it’s no longer a common experience to see the word “foolscap” printed on packets of paper, etc, I wonder if that’s when people start getting creative with its spelling?

  2. 2

    Commentary by Sravana Reddy , 2005/03/27 at 11:15 pm

    Hm… well in India, at least, (where most of the egg-ccurences seem to be!), the label ‘foolscap’ is rarely printed, even though the word is commonly used verbally. The sheets are just sold in loose stacks. But of course, you’re right in that not seeing the word written down makes people more prone to mistakes… which I think goes for most malapropisms.

  3. 3

    Commentary by Katherine , 2005/03/30 at 4:04 am

    I have definitely seen “full scap” written somewhere, but unfortunately I can’t remember where. Sorry!

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