\ 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

Noun 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. Adjective The dog was barking its fool head off. Some fool driver kept trying to pass me! Verb 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 Many Democrats believe that the quest for compromise is a fool’s errand in an era of polarized politics. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Biden’s First 100 Days—and the Next 100," 27 Apr. 2021 Studies have shown that the same parts of the brain are activated when watching someone sustain a physical injury as when watching someone make a fool of themselves. Jessica Thompson,, "Why Does Secondhand Embarrassment Make Me Want To Claw My Eyes Out?," 21 Apr. 2021 First, anyone who says no to a recruiter in Portland is a fool, for no one has ever made money betting against this city. Nicholas Kristof, Star Tribune, "From Portland, a liberal's lament," 15 Apr. 2021 Only a fool would turn Stoppard into a one-note fugitive from the hauntings of his past. Andrew O’hagan, The New York Review of Books, "In the Act of Living," 13 Apr. 2021 While not fool proof, the line may deter any deer that walk into it. Angela Watson,, "How to keep deer out of the garden," 4 Apr. 2021 But any riders who may have rushed to the nearest bus stop, found that they’d been played for the fool. Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, "On April Fool's Day, an S.F. supervisor tweeted that Muni was going fare-free. Some people didn't get the joke," 1 Apr. 2021 The fool can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving. Katie Workman, Washington Post, "Grab a bag of frozen strawberries to make this lush, creamy dessert," 29 Mar. 2021 But the legislative branch’s decline from a policymaking engine into a performative theater over the last thirty years makes this a fool’s errand. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Desperate Need for a Covid-19 Commission," 22 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb All that bait milling around on the surface makes an easy target for the bass—and for anglers who are trying to fool them. Frank Sargeant, al, "Gizzard shad a key to spring bass action," 2 May 2021 Seth Jarvis has not scored yet this season, but don’t let that fool you. Samantha Meese, oregonlive, "On the Portland Winterhawks: Northern Stars," 22 Mar. 2021 The town is just two blocks long but don’t let that fool you. Shanti Lerner, The Arizona Republic, "Tortilla Flat is an easy day trip from Phoenix. Here are the best things to do there," 11 Mar. 2021 But critics say Tesla’s system is easy to fool and can take as long as a minute to shut down. Tom Krisher, ajc, "Scrutiny of Tesla crash a sign that regulation may be coming," 20 Apr. 2021 But critics say Tesla's system is easy to fool and can take as long as a minute to shut down. Tom Krisher, Star Tribune, "Scrutiny of Tesla crash a sign that regulation may be coming," 19 Apr. 2021 These replicas are not meant to fool but are instead designed to act as makeshift shrines, shimmering mirages of what once was. Danielle Avram, Dallas News, "Nasher Prize laureate Michael Rakowitz finally gets his due after pandemic delay," 15 Apr. 2021 Fraudsters have figured out how to exploit model overconfidence by creating synthetic identities—fake applicants constructed to look like ones an algorithm has seen before—to fool loan underwriting models and run off with cash. Kareem Saleh, Forbes, "Does Your AI Model Know What It’s Talking About? Here’s One Way To Find Out.," 6 Apr. 2021 The mother of all conspiracy theories, the one that says that everything, with the exception of nothing, is fake and a conspiracy designed to fool our senses. Fouad Khan, Scientific American, "Confirmed! We Live in a Simulation," 1 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for fool

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fool

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fool.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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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