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

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Other Words from footle

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

Did You Know?

Footle may be an alteration of "footer," which an 1847 dictionary of archaic and provincial words says is a verb meaning "to idle." That word is connected with "fouter" (also spelled "foutra"), a word describing 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 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, "The lessons of Stephen Schwarzman," 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, "Space law is inadequate for the boom in human activity there," 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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Learn More about footle

Time Traveler for footle

Time Traveler

The first known use of footle was in 1891

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Cite this Entry

“Footle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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