Friday 17 December 1999
First recorded in the mid-19th century, it had a sense of age rather than youth, and also became naval slang for a ship's commander. It is perhaps, via a Romany word, from the Hindu loke, a man. Jonathon Green, however, links it with the Dutch blok, a fool. This is a possible source of blockhead and first used in separate 1549 translations of Erasmus's biblical paraphrases, one by Coverdale (Corinthians), the other by Olde (Ephesians), but in both of these it is likely that the sense of fool was inspired by the wooden head used as a wig-rest - hardly an accessory to which any self-respecting bloke, however foolish, will admit owning.
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