Going on another word origins hunt – tomboy – in this case, I came across something really interesting… Tom, as a name, used to be used to refer to the ‘everyman’ (similar to how we say “any Tom, Dick or Harry”). That Thomas was such a common man’s name that it got used to represent any man, is kind of cool.
Of course that’s why it then turns up in tomboy, tomfoolery and probably tomcat as well.
Tomboy did originally refer to boys – loud, wild, boisterious ones – but that got transfered over to girls who acted in that way.
Tom Fool – in the sense of half-wit – possibly came from Tom O’Bedlam which was a name for “madmen” let out of Bedlam (or one assumes any assylum) in the 16thC.
I like that guys called Tom were once the Johns of their age.