\ ˈfül \

Definition of fool

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a person lacking in judgment or prudence Only a fool would ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.
2a : a retainer (see retainer entry 1 sense 1) formerly kept in great households to provide casual entertainment and commonly dressed in motley with cap, bells, and bauble
b : one who is victimized or made to appear foolish : dupe History has made fools of many rash prophets.
3a : a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding
b : one with a marked propensity or fondness for something a dancing fool a fool for candy
4 : a cold dessert of pureed fruit mixed with whipped cream or custard



Definition of fool (Entry 2 of 3)

: foolish, silly barking its fool head off


fooled; fooling; fools

Definition of fool (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to behave foolishly told the children to stop their fooling often used with around
b : to meddle, tamper, or experiment especially thoughtlessly or ignorantly don't fool with that gun often used with around
2a : to play or improvise a comic role
b : to speak in jest : joke I was only fooling
3 : to contend or fight without serious intent or with less than full strength : toy a dangerous man to fool with

transitive verb

1 : to make a fool of : deceive
2 obsolete : infatuate
3 : to spend on trifles or without advantage : fritter used with away

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of fool in a Sentence


those fools who ride motorcycles without wearing helmets Only a fool would ask such a silly question. You'd be a fool to believe what he tells you. You're making yourself look like a fool.


The dog was barking its fool head off. Some fool driver kept trying to pass me!


When she first told us that she was getting married, we thought she was fooling. His disguise didn't fool anybody. He really had me fooled. Stop fooling yourself—she doesn't really love you.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Following Formula E's debut four years ago, plenty of auto enthusiasts saw the circuit as a fool's errand—surely motorsports fans raised on the roar of internal combustion would never love the zip and whine of electric cars rounding a track. Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, "This Is the Year Electric Car Racing Gets Real," 11 Dec. 2018 Yet, even long before streaming complicated the mathematics, accurately determining a record’s sales was something of a fool’s errand. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Report: Trump tabloid pal cut deal with feds," 24 Aug. 2018 Read below for a fool-proof guide on the platform bed, and shop some of our favorite picks. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Everything You Need to Know About Platform Beds," 21 Nov. 2018 Or this one about her fool-proof plan for making sure Legend doesn't marry anyone else. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Chrissy Teigen Has a Very Long, Hilarious History of Trolling John Legend," 17 July 2018 Baseball makes fools of us all, a simple game that never has seemed harder to figure out, a frustrating mental exercise from the first inning through the ninth that teases our intellect 162 days a year. David Haugh,, "Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati should be viewed as a blip, not a red flag," 25 June 2018 Kumin knows horse racing makes fools of those who expect such good fortune to continue forever. Childs Walker,, "Former Hopkins lacrosse player hopes for two wins today: at Big Ten final, Kentucky Derby," 5 May 2018 Of course, don’t let its traditional look fool you—the home was built in 2000. Alex Bazeley, Curbed, "Breezy beach house on Cape Cod asks $1.48M," 1 Aug. 2018 And then there are the flamethrowers and mini-submarines and tunnels and Twitter-as-internal-monologue trolling, all of it fueling daily speculation about whether Elon Musk is good or bad, sane or crazy, genius or fool. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "In Defense of Elon Musk," 16 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ortega’s propaganda fools no one and changes nothing. 350+ dead at the hands of the regime. Luis Manuel Galeano, The Seattle Times, "Brazilian student, 3 others killed in Nicaragua amid unrest," 24 July 2018 Somehow the smoke and mirrors of Jen's Facebook feed successfully fooled even those closest to her. Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 1: Fear," 4 Dec. 2018 Not much actually happens in the musical, though the rapid pace of the songs and acrobatic dancing can fool you into thinking there’s more to the story than exposition and hip thrusts. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Is the World Ready for Taylor Swift in Cats?," 20 July 2018 Gaskill fooled Barriss, however, by claiming to live at 1033 W. McCormick. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Man pleads guilty to swatting attack that led to death of Kansas man," 14 Nov. 2018 The Kim ruling family has fooled three previous American presidents with promises to disarm. NBC News, "Why North Korea's 'special delivery' letter was so warmly received in the Oval Office," 1 June 2018 This was demonstrated in 2017 when some MIT students found a way of fooling an image-recognition system into thinking a plastic turtle was a rifle. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "Why the U.S. Is Backing Killer Robots," 14 Sep. 2018 But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. Amanda Arnold, The Cut, "Lawyer for the Brock Turner Judge Claims Victim Didn’t Write Her Viral Letter," 23 May 2018 The world must not be fooled into believing that normalizing relations with Tehran will improve global security. Danny Danon, WSJ, "Zero Hour for the Islamic Republic," 24 Oct. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of fool


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined above


1593, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for fool

Noun, Adjective, and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French fol, from Late Latin follis, from Latin, bellows, bag; akin to Old High German bolla blister, balg bag — more at belly

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fool

Statistics for fool

Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fool

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fool



English Language Learners Definition of fool

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who lacks good sense or judgment : a stupid or silly person

: a person who enjoys something very much

: a dessert made with cooked fruit and cream or a thick sauce



English Language Learners Definition of fool (Entry 2 of 2)

: to speak or act in a way that is not serious

: to make (someone) believe something that is not true : to trick (someone)


\ ˈfül \

Kids Definition of fool

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person without good sense or judgment
2 : jester


fooled; fooling

Kids Definition of fool (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to speak or act in a playful way or in fun : joke We were only fooling.
2 : trick entry 2 Don't let them fool you.
3 : to spend time in an aimless way We fooled around in the playground before school.
4 : to play with or handle something carelessly Don't fool with my science project.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on fool

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fool

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fool

Spanish Central: Translation of fool

Nglish: Translation of fool for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on fool

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


important, real, or meaningful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!