foo·​tle | \ ˈfü-tᵊl How to pronounce footle (audio) \
footled; footling\ ˈfü-​tᵊl-​iŋ How to pronounce footle (audio) , ˈfüt-​liŋ \

Definition of footle

intransitive verb

1 : to talk or act foolishly
2 : to waste time : trifle, fool

Other Words from footle

footle noun
footler \ ˈfü-​tᵊl-​ər How to pronounce footle (audio) , ˈfüt-​lər \ noun

Did you know?

Footle will be more familiar to speakers of British English than it is to speakers of American English. Its likely source is the seldom-used footer, meaning "to waste time." That word is etymologically connected with fouter (also spelled foutra), a word referring to something of little value or someone worthless or bungling. But the link between footle and footer is speculative. What we can say with confidence is that footle is a verb of 19th century origin that—along with the derivative adjective footling (as in "a footling amateur")—is still apt when discussing foolish or trifling people or things.

Examples of footle in a Sentence

spent the morning footling about while others were working
Recent Examples on the Web Get our daily newsletter Yet Mr Schwarzman avoids footling with life’s foot-soldiers for a reason. The Economist, 19 Sep. 2019 Last year an American startup called Swarm Technologies paid a footling $900,000 fine for sending four tiny satellites into orbit on an Indian rocket, having been denied permission to do so by the US Federal Communications Commission. The Economist, 17 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'footle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of footle

1891, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for footle

probably alteration of footer to waste time

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Dictionary Entries Near footle

foot landraker



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Cite this Entry

“Footle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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