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

Definition of foul-up

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a state of confusion or an error caused by ineptitude, carelessness, or mismanagement foul-ups in transportation
2 : a mechanical difficulty

foul up

fouled up; fouling up; fouls up

Definition of foul up (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make dirty : contaminate
2 : to spoil by making mistakes or using poor judgment : confuse
3 : entangle, block fouled up communications

intransitive verb

: to cause a foul-up : bungle it was his fault. He had fouled up— Pat Frank

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Examples of foul-up in a Sentence

Verb tried not to foul up the football play unfortunately, I fouled up and in my e-mail gave everyone the wrong date for the meeting
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The foul up with the referees is a bit of surprise given Indianapolis' reputation for being an effective host city for large-scale events —and the importance of this event to the city and its reputation. Alexandria Burris, The Indianapolis Star, "Why did 6 March Madness referees leave Indianapolis COVID bubble? NCAA offers few details," 19 Mar. 2021 Then come foul up, goof up, gum up, mess up, muck up, screw up and synonymous unprintables. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Should we give up on our uppity English language?," 6 Mar. 2021 That’s how the Patriots can score, by fooling the other team or forcing it to foul up., "Against Eagles, fuming Tom Brady loses patience with offense of smoke and mirrors," 18 Nov. 2019 The Giants foul up the rush, but the Winterhawks are slow to get back and Sourdif gets the puck back and beats Joel Hofer top shelf. Dylan Bumbarger, oregonlive, "Winterhawks beat Giants in a shootout 2-1," 10 Nov. 2019 If his mechanics are fouled up and if his pocket presence is askew, those aren’t little things, and no one other than hot-take artists are saying he is seriously maligned. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "Five keys for the 49ers to beat the Bengals," 13 Sep. 2019 That is, one can’t simply be plugged into the other without fouling up the picture. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How the Moon Landing Was Filmed," 20 July 2019 Bill Plaschke warns that Rob Pelinka must not foul up again, as if Pelinka has anything to do with any of this., "Letters: On big deals, there's no shielding the Lakers from the agents," 21 June 2019 Got there late, being fouled up en route by getting on wrong tube. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Service Diary of a Corpsman: Roy L. Wall, LST 509," 28 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of foul-up


1950, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1947, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Time Traveler for foul-up

Time Traveler

The first known use of foul-up was in 1947

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Statistics for foul-up

Cite this Entry

“Foul-up.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for foul-up



English Language Learners Definition of foul-up

informal : a problem caused by someone making a mistake or being careless

More from Merriam-Webster on foul-up

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for foul-up

Nglish: Translation of foul-up for Spanish Speakers

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