foil

1 of 5

verb (1)

foiled; foiling; foils

transitive verb

1
a
: to prevent from attaining an end : defeat
always able to foil her enemies
Her accident foiled her from becoming a dancer.
b
: to bring to naught : thwart
foiled the plot
Police foiled an attempted robbery.
2
obsolete : trample

foil

2 of 5

noun (1)

1
: very thin sheet metal
aluminum foil
2
: a thin piece of material (such as metal) put under an inferior or paste stone to add color or brilliance
3
: someone or something that serves as a contrast to another
acted as a foil for a comedian
4
a
: an indentation between cusps in Gothic tracery
b
: one of several arcs that enclose a complex figure
5

foil

3 of 5

verb (2)

foiled; foiling; foils

transitive verb

1
: to back or cover with foil
2
: to enhance by contrast

foil

4 of 5

noun (2)

1
: a light fencing sword having a usually circular guard and a flexible blade of rectangular section tapering to a blunted point compare épée, saber
2
: the art or sport of fencing with the foil
often used in plural

foil

5 of 5

noun (3)

1
archaic : defeat
2
archaic : the track or trail of an animal
Choose the Right Synonym for foil

frustrate, thwart, foil, baffle, balk mean to check or defeat another's plan or block achievement of a goal.

frustrate implies making vain or ineffectual all efforts however vigorous or persistent.

frustrated attempts at government reform

thwart suggests frustration or checking by crossing or opposing.

the army thwarted his attempt at a coup

foil implies checking or defeating so as to discourage further effort.

foiled by her parents, he stopped trying to see her

baffle implies frustration by confusing or puzzling.

baffled by the maze of rules and regulations

balk suggests the interposing of obstacles or hindrances.

officials felt that legal restrictions had balked their efforts to control crime

Examples of foil in a Sentence

Verb (1) in popular fiction the hero will always foil the villain's plans
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
With their plan foiled, the feast trio set their sights on taking out Maria’s ally, Q. Brian Anthony Hernandez, Peoplemag, 16 May 2024 Police sent France into a bugged jail in hopes of getting Leasure to incriminate himself, a scheme the cautious Leasure foiled by writing his remarks on a piece of paper, then erasing them. Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2024 Our hotel, the Rebello, had been open for only two weeks, and the address foiled taxi drivers and Uber’s GPS. Jessamine Chan, Travel + Leisure, 14 May 2024 Broadening immunity Nursing home operators also have cited immunity to foil negligence lawsuits based on falls or other allegations of substandard care, such as bedsores, with little obvious connection to the pandemic, court records show. Fred Schulte | Kff Health News, ABC News, 11 May 2024 In this glittery, uplifting ode to acceptance, Emma, a high school student, dreams of taking her girlfriend to her senior prom, but her plans are foiled by a homophobic PTA. Duante Beddingfield, Detroit Free Press, 8 May 2024 The Ukrainian leader, who has led his country's effort to fend off Russia's more than two-year-old invasion, said last autumn that his security services had foiled at least five Russian plots to assassinate him. Yuliia Dysa, USA TODAY, 7 May 2024 Aura’s real-time malware protection foiled another 41%, for a total of 99% protection. PCMAG, 30 Apr. 2024 The hearing in a maximum security courtroom in Stuttgart marks the start of three marathon trials of 27 people in total accused of conspiring in a plot foiled by authorities at the end of 2022. Reuters, NBC News, 29 Apr. 2024
Noun
And sensible nurse Asta (Tomko) made an entertaining foil for Harry in those early days, as the person who had to deal with him and his eccentric behavior the most, and as the one person who had any ability to curb his worst antics. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 20 May 2024 Adding her to the series was a great decision on the creators’ part, however, introducing a foil to Lady Whistledown as a powerful, influential woman who is known rather than one whose identity remains a mystery. Kari Sonde, TIME, 16 May 2024 Each side of the political divide quickly put him to use as a foil, with its claims tailored to match. Cassandra Vinograd, New York Times, 16 May 2024 Loosely cover with foil (to keep them from drying out) until all the pancakes are cooked. Katlyn Moncada, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 May 2024 The container can then be covered with tin foil and heated for 15-20 minutes. Daryl Austin, USA TODAY, 15 May 2024 Bake ribs: Transfer the foil packet onto a baking sheet. Jessica Harlan, Southern Living, 13 May 2024 All were discovered in shoe boxes wrapped in tin foil and had their umbilical cords attached. Nicole Acosta, Peoplemag, 1 May 2024 At the same time, the difficulty of keeping the boats running clean on the foils and the long lap spread the field, sapping most of the drama from the action. J. George Gorant, Robb Report, 9 May 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb (1)

Middle English foilen "to trample, tread upon, mortify (the flesh), oppress," alteration of fullen "to full (cloth), trample down, oppress," perhaps by analogy with loanwords from French with palatal l that result in variants with -oi- and -u-, as coilen, cullen "to select for quality, pick out, cull entry 1" — more at full entry 5

Noun (1)

Middle English, leaf, from Anglo-French fuille, foille (from Latin folia, plural of folium) & fuil, from Latin folium — more at blade

Noun (2)

origin unknown

Noun (3)

derivative of foil entry 1

First Known Use

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (3)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of foil was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near foil

Cite this Entry

“Foil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/foil. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

foil

1 of 3 verb
: to prevent from achieving a goal : defeat
foil a plot

foil

2 of 3 noun
1
: a very thin sheet of metal
tin or aluminum foil
2
: one that serves as a contrast to another
acted as a foil for the comedian

foil

3 of 3 noun
: a fencing weapon having a light flexible blade with a blunt point
Etymology

Verb

Middle English foilen "to trample underfoot," from early French fuller, fouler "to shrink and thicken (cloth), trample underfoot," from Latin fullare "to shrink and thicken (cloth)"

Noun

Middle English foil "leaf," from early French fuille, foille (same meaning), derived from Latin folium "leaf" — related to foliage

Noun

origin unknown

Medical Definition

foil

noun
: very thin sheet metal (as of gold or platinum) used especially in filling teeth

More from Merriam-Webster on foil

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