"trifling, of no value; invalid, futile," c. 1600, from Latin nugatorius "worthless, trifling, futile," from nugator "jester, trifler, braggart," from nugatus, past participle of nugari "to trifle, jest, play the fool," from nugæ "jokes, jests, trifles," a word of unknown origin.
1725, "hard blow," from smash (v.). Meaning "broken-up condition" is from 1798; that of "failure, financial collapse" is from 1839. Tennis sense is from 1882. Meaning "great success" is from 1923 (Variety magazine headline, Oct. 16, in reference to Broadway productions of "The Fool" and "The Rise of Rosie O'Reilly").
"seductive woman who exploits men," 1911, short for vampire. First attested use is earlier than the release of the Fox film "A Fool There Was" (January 1915), with sultry Theda Bara in the role of The Vampire. The movie was based on a play of that name that had been on Broadway in 1909 (title and concept from a Kipling poem, "The Vampire," inspired by a Burne-Jones painting). The stage lead seems to have been played by Kathryn Kaelred and Bernice Golden Henderson. At any rate, Bara (born Theodosia Goodman) remains the classic vamp and the word's wide currency is attributable to her performance.
A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care)
But the fool, he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I.)
[Kipling, from "The Vampire"]
1540s, "type of pantomime dance;" 1580s, "professional comic fool;" 1590s in the general sense "a clown, a joker;" from French bouffon (16c.), from Italian buffone "jester," from buffa "joke, jest, pleasantry," from buffare "to puff out the cheeks," a comic gesture, of echoic origin. Also see -oon.