1

foul

adjective \ ˈfau̇(-ə)l \

Definition of foul

1 a :offensive to the senses :loathsome
  • the foul odor of rotten eggs
b :filled or covered with offensive matter
  • foul bins of filth
2 :full of dirt or mud
3 a :morally or spiritually odious :detestable
  • a foul crime
b :notably unpleasant or distressing :wretched, horrid
  • in a foul mood
4 :obscene, abusive
  • foul language
5 a :being wet and stormy
  • foul weather
b :obstructive to navigation
  • a foul tide
6 dialectal British :homely, ugly
7 a :treacherous, dishonorable
  • fair means or foul
b :constituting an infringement (see infringe 1) of rules in a game or sport
  • a foul blow in boxing
8 :containing marked-up corrections
  • a foul manuscript
  • foul proofs
9 :encrusted, clogged, or choked with a foreign substance
  • the chimney was foul and smoked badly
10 :being odorous and impure :polluted
  • foul air
11 :placed in a situation that impedes physical movement :entangled
  • a foul fishing line
12 :being outside the foul lines in baseball
  • … a foul fly that was snagged by a fan in the stands.
  • —E. M. Swift

foully

play \ˈfau̇(l)-lē\ adverb

foulness

noun

Examples of foul in a Sentence

  1. the foul odor of rotten eggs

  2. The medicine left a foul taste in my mouth.

  3. The weather has been foul all week.

Recent Examples of foul from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of foul

Middle English, from Old English fūl; akin to Old High German fūl rotten, Latin pus pus, putēre to stink, Greek pyon pus

Synonym Discussion of foul

dirty, filthy, foul, nasty, squalid mean conspicuously unclean or impure. dirty emphasizes the presence of dirt more than an emotional reaction to it.
    • a dirty littered street
filthy carries a strong suggestion of offensiveness and typically of gradually accumulated dirt that begrimes and besmears.
    • a stained greasy floor, utterly filthy
foul implies extreme offensiveness and an accumulation of what is rotten or stinking.
    • a foul-smelling open sewer
nasty applies to what is actually foul or is repugnant to one expecting freshness, cleanliness, or sweetness.
    • it's a nasty job to clean up after a sick cat
In practice, nasty is often weakened to the point of being no more than a synonym of unpleasant or disagreeable.
    • had a nasty fall
    • his answer gave her a nasty shock
squalid adds to the idea of dirtiness and filth that of slovenly neglect.
    • squalid slums
All these terms are also applicable to moral uncleanness or baseness or obscenity. dirty then stresses meanness or despicableness
    • don't ask me to do your dirty work
, while filthy and foul describe disgusting obscenity or loathsome behavior
    • filthy street language
    • a foul story of lust and greed
, and nasty implies a peculiarly offensive unpleasantness.
    • a stand-up comedian known for nasty humor
Distinctively, squalid implies sordidness as well as baseness and dirtiness.
    • engaged in a series of squalid affairs

2

foul

noun

Definition of foul

1 archaic :something foul
2 :an entanglement or collision especially in angling or sailing
3 a :an infringement of the rules in a game or sport

Examples of foul in a Sentence

  1. He hit several fouls in a row.

Recent Examples of foul from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of foul

see 1foul

Other Field and Goal Sports Terms


3

foul

verb

Definition of foul

intransitive verb
1 :to become or be foul: such as
b :to become encrusted, clogged, or choked with a foreign substance
c :to become entangled or come into collision
2 :to commit a violation of the rules in a sport or game
3 :to hit a foul ball
transitive verb
1 :to make foul: such as
a :to make dirty :pollute
b :to tangle or come into collision with
c :to encrust with a foreign substance
  • a ship's bottom fouled with barnacles
3 :to commit a foul against
4 :to hit (a baseball) foul

Examples of foul in a Sentence

  1. pollutants that foul the air

  2. She fouled on her first long jump attempt.

  3. He was fouled as he attempted the shot.

  4. He kept fouling pitches into the stands.

Recent Examples of foul from the Web

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

First Known Use of foul

before 12th century

foul Synonyms


4

foul

adverb

Definition of foul

:in a foul manner :so as to be foul

Recent Examples of foul from the Web

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

First Known Use of foul

13th century



FOUL Defined for English Language Learners

foul

adjective

Definition of foul for English Language Learners

  • : very unpleasant to taste or smell

  • : morally bad : very evil

  • : very bad or unpleasant


foul

noun

Definition of foul for English Language Learners

  • sports : an action that is against the rules and for which a player is given a penalty

  • baseball : a batted ball that lands outside the foul lines : a foul ball


foul

verb

Definition of foul for English Language Learners

  • : to make (a substance, place, etc.) dirty

  • sports : to commit a foul

  • : to commit a foul against (another player)


FOUL Defined for Kids

1

foul

adjective \ ˈfau̇l \

Definition of foul for Students

fouler; foulest
1 :disgusting in looks, taste, or smell
  • In the warm months, a foul odor rose …
  • —Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux
2 :full of or covered with something that pollutes
  • foul air
3 :being vulgar or insulting
  • foul language
4 :being wet and stormy
  • foul weather
5 :very unfair
  • She would even use foul methods to get what she wanted.
6 :very unpleasant or bad
  • a foul mood
7 :breaking a rule in a game or sport
  • The boxer was warned for using a foul punch.
8 :being outside the foul lines
  • He hit a foul ball.

2

foul

noun

Definition of foul for Students

1 :a ball in baseball that is batted outside the foul lines
2 :an act of breaking the rules in a game or sport

3

foul

verb

Definition of foul for Students

fouled; fouling
1 :to make or become foul or filthy
  • foul the air
  • foul a stream
2 :to make a foul in a game


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