be·​foul | \ bi-ˈfau̇(-ə)l How to pronounce befoul (audio) , bē-\
befouled; befouling; befouls

Definition of befoul

transitive verb

1 : to make foul (as with dirt or waste)
2 : sully, soil, besmirch scandal befouled his reputation

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Synonyms & Antonyms for befoul


begrime, bemire, besmirch, blacken, daub, dirty, distain [archaic], foul, gaum [dialect], grime, mire, muck, muddy, smirch, smudge, soil, stain, sully


clean, cleanse

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Examples of befoul in a Sentence

pollutants that befoul the air and water unsightly mud and slush befouls the family car every winter

Recent Examples on the Web

School staff and the resource officer were notified that someone was regularly befouling the track and football field, and authorities began surveilling the area. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "A corporate executive led a secret double life — as Australia’s ‘poo jogger’," 7 June 2018 For the sailors, teams, organizers and sponsors, the Volvo Ocean Race is part of a larger race against time, a mission to curb the use of products that litter the ocean and befoul the air. Washington Post, "Round-the-world sailing race works to protect its racetrack," 18 May 2018 Police set the trap that resulted in Tramaglini’s arrest after high school staffers and coaches complained to their on-site resource officer that somebody was befouling their track and field. NBC News, "Public Enemy No. 2? New Jersey educator accused of soiling school track," 3 May 2018 The ground is befouled with glass and debris from the disaster, requiring several inches of dirt to be scraped and removed. star-telegram, "13 in 2013: Tiny West battles pain, controversy as it rebuilds after blast | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 28 Dec. 2013 That's because Walden Pond, the once-pristine jewel that inspired the American naturalist and philosopher in the mid 1800s, has been befouled by generations of swimmers urinating in the water, according to a new study. Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, "Famed Walden Pond, which inspired Henry David Thoreau, is being killed by pee," 6 Apr. 2018 Sociologists and psychologists could probably help explain the phenomenon, how creating a sense of belonging prevents people from befouling the waters with free-floating cruelty and abuse. John Warner,, "The March Madness of books: Proof that internet comment sections aren’t just for haters," 7 Mar. 2018 Both of these people come out of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood mega-church, the one that initially declined to allow the victims of Hurricane Harvey to befoul its sanctuary. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "The Best People, Church Grifter Edition," 19 Mar. 2018 So damn you, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, for causing people to befoul the blissful irrelevance of Big Brother. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: Please Stop Taking 'Celebrity Big Brother' Contestant Omarosa Seriously," 13 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'befoul.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of befoul

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for befoul

The first known use of befoul was in the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of befoul

formal : to make (a substance, place, etc.) dirty

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with befoul

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Comments on befoul

What made you want to look up befoul? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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