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

Definition of footle

intransitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from footle

footle noun
footler \ ˈfü-​tᵊl-​ər How to pronounce footler (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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about footle

Time Traveler for footle

Time Traveler

The first known use of footle was in 1891

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about footle

Statistics for footle

Last Updated

25 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Footle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

More from Merriam-Webster on footle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for footle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with footle

Comments on footle

What made you want to look up footle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


delight or enjoyment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!