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

transitive verb

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

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 Capitalism is degrading us, killing us and befouling our world. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 8 June 2023 At a 2019 commencement address, Mr. Adams told a story about intimidating a neighbor whose dog was befouling his yard. Emma G. Fitzsimmons, New York Times, 1 June 2023 This roman à clef series begins with the patriarch of the Roy clan, Logan (Brian Cox), urinating on a carpet (evoking The Big Lebowski, befouling us). Armond White, National Review, 5 Apr. 2023 Human attention is presented as an endangered public resource, befouled by the attention economy, tech companies, virtual workplaces, Slack notifications. Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker, 6 Mar. 2023 Hundreds of women will dress up against the cold on a gray November day to protest a pipeline that could befoul their water and will almost certainly lead to the final befouling of the planet. Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2022 But dip even the most blood-befouled corset in a tub of warm water and swish, swish, swish — Lucy’s lace nightgown, or a doctor’s lab coat — is restored to its original snowy sheen. Mary Carole McCauley,, 24 Oct. 2019 The poison of authoritarianism is as pervasive as the cloud of sulfur dioxide that befouled the air in East Germany. Kyle Smith, National Review, 26 Feb. 2020 Michael Kuta, 26, of the 700 block of South Addison Avenue, Villa Park, was cited for disorderly conduct – befouling property at 1:15 a.m. Nov. 28 after he was observed urinating on bushes in the 100 block of South York Street. Graydon Megan,, 6 Dec. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'befoul.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near befoul

Cite this Entry

“Befoul.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


be·​foul bi-ˈfau̇(ə)l How to pronounce befoul (audio)
: to make dirty : soil
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