\ ˈfül How to pronounce fool (audio) \

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Fitting such missions into the budgets presently allowed for Discovery- or New Frontiers–class missions may be a fool’s errand, Dreier says. Robin George Andrews, Scientific American, "Burying CAESAR: How NASA Picks Winners—and Losers—in Space Exploration," 25 July 2019 This may be why root connections happen in the first place, but cannot explain their perpetuation, for trying to help a trunkless stump reproduce would be a fool’s errand. The Economist, "Tree stumps can live on indefinitely...," 25 July 2019 Predicting the winner of a major championship after one round is a fool’s errand. Michael Rosenberg,, "Like Every Major These Days, the Open Turns Into Brooks Koepka vs. the World," 18 July 2019 To try to push that extreme position on the general public is a fool’s errand. Declan Leary, National Review, "‘Latinx’ Is a Stupid Word," 11 July 2019 Deploying more National Guard to the border is a fool’s errand and a waste of millions of taxpayer dollars. ... Washington Post, "Texas sending another 1,000 National Guard troops to border," 21 June 2019 The pace and volume of this deluge have persuaded some newsrooms that sending journalists abroad is a fool’s errand. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The New York Review of Books, "Bellingcat and How Open Source Reinvented Investigative Journalism," 10 June 2019 This sensitivity to initial conditions, later popularized as the butterfly effect, made predicting the far future a fool’s errand. Quanta Magazine, "The Hidden Heroines of Chaos," 20 May 2019 Although this classic sugar cookie recipe is pretty fool-proof, the key to the perfect batch of bunnies is to keep the dough cold. Beth Lipton, Country Living, "Bunny Sugar Cookies," 8 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Employers often say they were fooled by fraudulent documents. Washington Post, "Documents: Plant owners ‘willfully’ used ineligible workers," 9 Aug. 2019 Employers often say they were fooled by fraudulent documents. Jeff Amy, Twin Cities, "Mississippi processing plant owners ‘willfully’ used ineligible workers, documents say," 9 Aug. 2019 Critics of the Pakistani security establishment said Trump had been fooled into believing that Saeed’s arrest was a major accomplishment. Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times, "Trump touts ‘ten year search’ for Pakistani militant, but everyone knew where he was," 17 July 2019 Thanks to shoddy practices, millions of small-time investors have lost their life savings as they were fooled into investing in plans like online peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms. Shachindra Nath, Quartz India, "India’s NBFCs, wrongly called shadow banks, need the government’s backing," 3 July 2019 Riley singled in the second but made a rookie mistake when he was fooled by shortstop Hernan Perez, who pretended to field a throw at second on Brian McCann’s fly ball to fight field. Charles Odum, The Seattle Times, "Freeman’s HR lifts Braves to 4-3 win over Brewers in 10th," 18 May 2019 Even Howard’s dad — director Ron Howard — was once fooled, Chastain said. Washington Post, "Double take: Celebrities take mistaken identity in stride," 22 July 2019 However, the Better Business Bureau is seeing increasing reports of scammers fooling consumers with fake customer service phone numbers. Leah Napoliello, Houston Chronicle, "BBB on Homes: Consumers report appliance-repair scam," 20 July 2019 Catbirds can’t be fooled Researchers have found that catbirds are excellent at recognizing their eggs and ejecting those that don’t match. Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Indianapolis Star, "The Hoosier Gardener: Summer brings catbirds out in the open," 18 July 2019

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.

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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

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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
US, informal : a person who enjoys something very much
chiefly British : 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 How to pronounce fool (audio) \

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.

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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).


not constant or steady

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