fool·​ish ˈfü-lish How to pronounce foolish (audio)
: having or showing a lack of good sense, judgment, or discretion
a foolish mistake
She takes foolish risks.
: absurd, ridiculous
He looked foolish in that hat.
: marked by a loss of composure : nonplussed
He felt foolish when he couldn't remember where he had parked the car.
foolishly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for foolish

simple, foolish, silly, fatuous, asinine mean actually or apparently deficient in intelligence.

simple implies a degree of intelligence inadequate to cope with anything complex or involving mental effort.

considered people simple who had trouble with computers

foolish implies the character of being or seeming unable to use judgment, discretion, or good sense.

foolish stunts

silly suggests failure to act as a rational being especially by ridiculous behavior.

the silly antics of revelers

fatuous implies foolishness, inanity, and disregard of reality.

fatuous conspiracy theories

asinine suggests utter and contemptible failure to use normal rationality or perception.

an asinine plot

Examples of foolish in a Sentence

He was wearing a foolish grin. She's been taking foolish risks. Those flashy clothes make her look foolish. She must feel foolish wearing those flashy clothes. I never thought you'd be foolish enough to believe him.
Recent Examples on the Web For those of us who still retreat to the cinema’s womb, our most joyful agony is not to encounter movies that are foolish or horrible or broken-backed. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 Cult members are often depicted in the media as weak-willed and foolish. Robert Evans, Rolling Stone, 27 Jan. 2024 African countries would be foolish to put all of this at risk by overtly siding with one side, yet claiming neutrality, all while expecting the other side to continue to reach out. Ivor Ichikowitz, Fortune, 26 Jan. 2024 So hope in Chase Center was high and taking that last timeout seemed foolish as Curry took his two defenders across the court, final seconds ticking. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, 26 Jan. 2024 Republican senators and congressmen, so anxious to portray Biden as weak and to call for a vigorous military response, have blown past the most basic questions about the incident, ones that make both the Trump and Biden administrations look utterly foolish and depravedly negligent. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 31 Jan. 2024 But Africa would be foolish in the extreme to ignore the strides that President Biden’s administration has made, reinvigorating the country’s Africa focus with more than 800 reciprocal deals across 47 countries. Ivor Ichikowitz, Fortune, 26 Jan. 2024 Experts say savers would be foolish to leave that free money on the table. Tanza Loudenback,, 11 Jan. 2024 As Ralph Waldo Emerson might have said in an essay of the same name (and did), a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds; Tommy seems to feel his brain shrinking along with his life. John Anderson, WSJ, 9 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'foolish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see fool entry 1

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of foolish was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near foolish

Cite this Entry

“Foolish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


fool·​ish ˈfü-lish How to pronounce foolish (audio)
: lacking in good sense or judgment : silly
foolishly adverb
foolishness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on foolish

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