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n. ~ A sheet of paper approximately 13 × 16 inches, usually folded to 8 × 13 inches, and used for writing or printing.

(Ciardi 1980, p. 136) A sheet of paper 13 × 16 inches, folding to 8 × 13, now called legal size, to distinguish it from letter size or common typewriter paper, which is 8½ × 11 inches. Surviving documents on such paper show that it was watermarked with the belled cap of a court jester, a 'fool's cap,' and that watermark (still in use as part of the tradition of papermaking) is an evident source of the term. But this paper was originally imported from Italy, and is attested in XVIII as Genoa foolscap. In It. such a sheet was called un foglio capo, a chief (large) sheet. If foglio is given an English plural as foglios capo, the resultant form is very close to foolscap, whereby one must conclude that the term derives from both the watermark and the Italian name.