fool around with

idiomatic phrase

variants or chiefly British fool about with
1
: to use or do (something) in a way that is not very serious
I'm not really a painter; I just like to fool around with paints.
2
: to handle or interact with (something) in a careless or foolish way : to meddle, tamper, or experiment with (something) especially thoughtlessly or ignorantly
Don't fool around with that drill.
3
: to have sex with (someone who is not one's spouse or regular partner)
His partner discovered that he was fooling around with his co-worker.

Examples of fool around with in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web With only three people serving as potential victims, there’s not much time to fool around with niceties like character development and subplots. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 11 Jan. 2023 But one of the first rules of quarterback play is don’t fool around with a hot QB. oregonlive, 12 Sep. 2021 Professional services that don’t have to actively fool around with networking hardware, or measure for curtains are the ones where workers will be most likely to work remote. Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2021 Don’t fool around with this virus. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, 10 Oct. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fool around with.' 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

1923, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of fool around with was in 1923

Dictionary Entries Near fool around with

Cite this Entry

“Fool around with.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fool%20around%20with. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

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