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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Hickenlooper is doing the thankless task of pointing out folly among the 2020 candidates. The Denver Post Editorial Board, The Denver Post, "Editorial: Hickenlooper pushed back against Trump and spectacularly bad policy proposals," 5 June 2019 Unfortunately, apart from these striking moments, the series often veers between caricature and folly. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "What HBO’s “Chernobyl” Got Right, and What It Got Terribly Wrong," 4 June 2019 And then there are measures that make ATM thefts a folly. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Two Florida men use a blow torch on an ATM. But they ‘bungled the job,’ cops say," 4 June 2019 Spider-Verse could chip away at those follies even further. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the box office with a $35 million opening weekend," 17 Dec. 2018 On Saoirse Ronan this meant a directional, Elizabethan folly by Wes Gordon for Carolina Herrera; Margot Robbie was her regal foil in pleating and roses from Rodarte. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "10 Best Dressed: Week of December 17, 2018," 17 Dec. 2018 The fashion designer’s first museum show highlights his sartorial follies, fantasies and phantasmagoria. WSJ, "‘Thierry Mugler: Couturissime’ Review: Beyond Couture," 18 Mar. 2019 The Jaguars were on the verge of knocking off New England when a flurry of follies in Foxborough aided Brady's two-TD rally that sent the seemingly impervious Patriots back to another Super Bowl. USA TODAY, "Patriots don't need any help but they tend to get it," 28 Jan. 2018 This is surely the humans' greatest folly, their inability to look past the droids' occasional limitations to treat them with dignity. Sandra Upson, WIRED, "Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 8: The Great Ghost Nation Mystery," 11 June 2018

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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Statistics for folly

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for folly

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

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More Definitions for folly



English Language Learners Definition of folly

: the lack of good sense or judgment
: a foolish act or idea : foolish behavior
: a very unusual or fancy building that was built in a garden for decoration or amusement in the past


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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on folly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with folly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for folly

Spanish Central: Translation of folly

Nglish: Translation of folly for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on folly

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behavior toward others

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