\ ˈfau̇(-ə)l How to pronounce foul (audio) \

Definition of foul

 (Entry 1 of 4)

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



Definition of foul (Entry 2 of 4)

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


fouled; fouling; fouls

Definition of foul (Entry 3 of 4)

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

intransitive verb

1 : to commit a violation of the rules in a sport or game
2 : to hit a foul ball
3 : to become or be foul: such as
a : decompose, rot
b : to become encrusted, clogged, or choked with a foreign substance
c : to become entangled or come into collision



Definition of foul (Entry 4 of 4)

: in a foul manner : so as to be foul

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from foul


foully \ ˈfau̇(l)-​lē How to pronounce foul (audio) \ adverb
foulness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for foul

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of foul in a Sentence

Adjective the foul odor of rotten eggs The medicine left a foul taste in my mouth. The weather has been foul all week. Noun He hit several fouls in a row. Verb pollutants that foul the air She fouled on her first long jump attempt. He was fouled as he attempted the shot. He kept fouling pitches into the stands.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Altuve sent a drive just inside the left-field foul pole for his 19th career leadoff homer. Mike Haim, Chron, 7 June 2021 Arizona’s rally came after Dani Morgan hooked a three-run home run inside the left-field foul pole with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Seminoles a 3-2 lead. The Arizona Republic, 6 June 2021 Altuve sent a drive just inside the left-field foul pole for his 19th career leadoff homer. Mike Haim, Star Tribune, 6 June 2021 The rocket sailed over the 325 sign, just inside the foul pole, and touched off a wild celebration at home plate. Joe Freeman, oregonlive, 6 June 2021 But the Cardinals broke up Bauer’s shutout in the sixth when Justin Williams pulverized a 92-mph fastball, sending a leadoff homer high off the right-field foul pole, the ball leaving his bat at 115 mph. Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2021 With two outs, Mauricio Dubón hammered a first-pitch fastball high off the foul pole in left with an exit velocity of 107.1 mph, the highest of his career topping his previous 106.3. Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 May 2021 And Shohei Ohtani blasted a 117 mile-per-hour homer around the right-field foul pole to put the game out of reach. Sam Blum, Dallas News, 26 May 2021 Rhys Hoskins singled home Herrera with the first run and after Alec Bohm walked, Miller hit a drive just inside the left field foul pole for his fourth homer of the year. Kevin Cooney,, 23 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Rose forced a turnover, drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws. oregonlive, 9 June 2021 Reggie Theus scored to pull the Hawks within 1 point with 20 seconds left, but Humphries found a way through the trap, and Roberts drew a foul on the make with 13 seconds to go. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 21 May 2021 Early in the second quarter, Anthony knocked down a 3 from the right wing and drew the foul to pass Hayes' career total of 27,313. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, 4 May 2021 That missed, but the Spurs could not control the rebound in traffic, and Adebayo put back the rebound and drew a foul on Murray fo ra 3-point play. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 28 Apr. 2021 Wagner drew a foul and hit two free throws to get it back to one before Jaime Jaquez Jr. missed a 3. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, 31 Mar. 2021 Jump drew a foul behind the arc, and swished all three free throws to put the Mustangs back up four at 47-43. James Weber, The Enquirer, 30 Mar. 2021 All-Star drew a foul on Fred VanVleet with 42.5 seconds remaining and made two free throws. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 28 Mar. 2021 Singleton hit a jump shot and drew the foul at 2:52. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 28 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On Montana’s Fort Belknap Reservation, tribal president Andy Werk Jr. described the end of Keystone as a relief to Native Americans who stood against it out of concerns a line break could foul the Missouri River or other waterways. Matthew Brown, ajc, 9 June 2021 San Diego stretched the advantage to 11 late in the quarter when Vista was forced to foul. San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 June 2021 But the player defending Walker, Aaron Nesmith, didn’t fall for the fake and intercepted Gay’s pass, which led to Tatum sinking a pair of free throws after Dejounte Murray was forced to foul. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, 1 May 2021 The Hornets were forced to foul and Kuzma slammed the door on Charlotte with four free throws down the stretch. Steve Reed, Star Tribune, 13 Apr. 2021 That left the Heat down 106-102 and forced to foul with 31.8 seconds left. Ira Winderman,, 26 Apr. 2021 The Huskies had to foul, and Cardoza hit four free throws in the final 22 seconds. Lori Riley,, 1 Apr. 2021 Because the ball was technically loose when the undeserved foul against Poeltl was called, however, the play resulted in a jump ball at midcourt. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 30 Apr. 2021 In the sixth inning, after Nick Senzel led off with an infield hit — Senzel had three of Cincinnati’s four hits off Kershaw — the Dodgers left-hander got Jesse Winker to miss a slider, foul off a fastball, and miss a slow curveball. Los Angeles Times, 29 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Ayton didn't commit another foul the rest of the game. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 11 June 2021 Maybe there are adult drivers that had foul-tasting encounters with bad teenage drivers and became conditioned to assume that all teenage drivers must be bad. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 7 June 2021 Morgan’s bunt was rolling foul but it was picked up in fair territory. Michael Casagrande |, al, 4 June 2021 Bazzell turned that noise into power during his sixth-inning at-bat, but his hits were pulling foul. Arianna Vedia, Dallas News, 2 June 2021 The Tigers, meanwhile, scratched out a run in the top of the sixth when old friend Jonathan Schoop won a 10-pitch battle with Burnes that included two long drives down the left-field line that pulled just foul with a two-out RBI single to center. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 31 May 2021 In a 3-0 count, Matt Olson hit a pop-up foul behind third base. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 May 2021 Those buyers surely will have plenty of alternative means of transportation for when the weather turns foul, but the exclusive draw of the V12 Speedster is undeniable. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 25 May 2021 The final pitch, a 95 mph fastball, was foul tipped into Haase's glove. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 19 May 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of foul


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 3


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for foul

Adjective and Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About foul

Time Traveler for foul

Time Traveler

The first known use of foul was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for foul

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Foul.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for foul



English Language Learners Definition of foul

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: very unpleasant to taste or smell
: morally bad : very evil
: very bad or unpleasant



English Language Learners Definition of foul (Entry 2 of 3)

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



English Language Learners Definition of foul (Entry 3 of 3)

: to make (a substance, place, etc.) dirty
: to commit a foul
: to commit a foul against (another player)


\ ˈfau̇l How to pronounce foul (audio) \
fouler; foulest

Kids Definition of foul

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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.



Kids Definition of foul (Entry 2 of 3)

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


fouled; fouling

Kids Definition of foul (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : to make or become foul or filthy foul the air foul a stream
2 : to make a foul in a game


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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