fol·​ly | \ ˈfä-lē How to pronounce folly (audio) \
plural follies

Definition of folly

1 : lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight his folly in thinking he could not be caught
2a : criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct
b obsolete : evil, wickedness especially : lewd behavior
3 : a foolish act or idea The prank was a youthful folly.
4 : an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking Paying so much for that land was folly, since it was all rocks and scrub trees.
5 : an often extravagant picturesque building erected to suit a fanciful taste

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Examples of folly in a Sentence

the folly of driving fast on steep, winding roads his folly in thinking that he would not be noticed The folly of such an action should be apparent to everyone. the follies of the modern world the famous Ziegfeld Follies of the 1920s
Recent Examples on the Web Too late for its energy security and, more obviously, too late for the Ukrainians, the Germans have realized the folly of energy alignment with a geopolitical foe. Jordan Mcgillis, National Review, 10 Mar. 2022 Breakout seasons from other Day 1 picks in Jameson Williams, Quay Walker and Jermaine Johnson II, among others, further highlighted the folly of trying to forecast one draft right as another ends. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, 1 May 2022 Experts are also publicizing the folly of using plexiglass dividers to shield people from one another's breath. The Week Staff, The Week, 24 Apr. 2022 The two join Variety for a conversation about awards, the folly of categorizing creativity and the healing power of music. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 30 Mar. 2022 Don’t Look Up shows the folly of mankind trivializing the import of a comet hurtling toward Earth, concluding with its impact and the end of the world. Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Mar. 2022 In an uncredited cameo, San Diego actor Jack Missett plays an aged and haggard Cupid in soiled wings, sock garters and a lumpy diaper, symbolizing the folly of idealized love. San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Feb. 2022 But short-term fixes that aren’t accompanied by urgent work on more sustainable solutions are fixes of folly. Todd Khozein, Forbes, 22 Apr. 2022 The last few days have seen devastatingly good pieces on the policy and political folly of the idea from NRO’s Kevin Williamson and my old boss Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform. Ryan Ellis, National Review, 7 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'folly.' 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 folly

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for folly

Middle English folie, from Anglo-French, from fol fool

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Time Traveler for folly

Time Traveler

The first known use of folly was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near folly

follow up on (something)



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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Folly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for folly


fol·​ly | \ ˈfä-lē How to pronounce folly (audio) \
plural follies

Kids Definition of folly

1 : lack of good sense His own folly caused his trouble.
2 : a foolish act or idea That plan was sheer folly.

More from Merriam-Webster on folly

Nglish: Translation of folly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of folly for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about folly


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