\ 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

Leaping into the trash is for weak souls; imagining a greater reality than toyhood is for fools and lunatics. Ross Douthat, National Review, "Toy Story 4’s Nursery Stoicism," 11 July 2019 Only a fool would believe there are not ways to get around these rules — or that the IHSAA could police all of the transfers. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: IHSAA basketball transfers are a bigger conundrum than ever," 8 July 2019 Don’t let that fool you, though; there are some good wines here. Allyson Reedy, The Know, "Your ultimate Palisade wine tour: How to bike to 7 wineries in one day," 2 July 2019 The rest-on-our-laurels strategy is a fool’s bet, whereas remaining a humble, passionate servant of our craft is the best long-game play. Josh Linkner, Detroit Free Press, "When we stop doing the things that made us great," 15 June 2019 And while McKinnon’s army of record executives are played as trendy fools trying to erect a cult of personality around Jack, their machinations are forgotten as Yesterday pivots back to its damp romantic subplot. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Yesterday Imagines a World Where the Beatles Never Existed," 26 June 2019 As the saying has it, God has a special providence for fools. Mike Kerrigan, WSJ, "A Young Imagination Beats Videogames," 24 June 2019 Even if the last 10 goals were just the U.S. knocking some fool back into the dunk tank at the fair, the game was still going on and players have devoted themselves and sacrificed in ways most of us can’t understand. Mike Anthony,, "Mike Anthony: U.S. national team’s mistake was in the way it celebrated," 19 June 2019 We are asked to see him simultaneously as a genius and a fool. Salman Rushdie, The New Yorker, "What Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” Tells Us Now," 13 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ian Easterling spotted him, having been fooled by this snake before. Gena Steffens, Smithsonian, "The Snakes That Ate Florida," 11 July 2019 Image Do not be fooled by the alluring touch of tropical fruit sweetness in Ming River Baijiu, a Chinese spirit now sold in the United States. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, "Add Fire to Your Fourth of July Cocktail," 2 July 2018 Don’t be fooled by Silver’s low-key, non-slick demeanor. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "NBA’s annual playground game given a little more motivation," 18 Feb. 2018 Don't be fooled by the pro-style description for some. Bill Landis,, "Ohio State offers Wisconsin QB commit Graham Mertz: Resetting the Buckeyes 2019 QB targets," 17 Jan. 2018 In the future, if new school taxes are proposed in Sacramento, Los Angeles or anywhere else, officials shouldn’t try to fool voters with clever buzzwords. Dan Walters, The Mercury News, "Walters: School tax in LA, similar to statewide measure, flunks," 10 June 2019 But, don't be fooled by the marketing terms and instead, try out a few different types or consult a hairstylist to find out what works best for you in terms of overall effect and personal preference. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Experts Explain How Conditioner Benefits Your Hair (and Why You Should Always Use It)," 16 Oct. 2018 Lovely says that consumers shouldn’t be fooled by Trump’s claims that other countries are paying for tariffs. Tara Law, Time, "As Trump Suspends New Tariffs on Mexico, Experts Warn That His Threats Could Damage the U.S. Economy," 8 June 2019 All is this is beautiful, and looks inevitable, yet don’t be fooled — none of it happened by accident. Blair Kamin,, "'The Power of Preservation': Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin on why historic preservation matters in Wilmette," 3 June 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).


to complain fretfully

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