\ 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
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
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

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Other Words from foul


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for foul

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Knights spent most of the first half without their best player, forward Collin Smith, who was beset by foul trouble. Brian Murphy, orlandosentinel.com, "Ceasar DeJesus leads UCF basketball to win over Pepperdine," 30 Nov. 2019 The Jackrabbits spent much of the middle of the game with their leading scorer, Douglas Wilson, on the bench with foul trouble. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "IU basketball pushes to 7-0 with up-and-down win over South Dakota State," 30 Nov. 2019 Eli Brooks, David DeJulius, Colin Castleton and Brandon Johns have provided scoring, rebounding, defense and key minutes whenever Michigan's stars, like point guard Zavier Simpson and center Jon Teske, have been in foul trouble. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Juwan Howard has Michigan basketball looking elite after run in Bahamas. Here's how," 29 Nov. 2019 With junior center Theo John in foul trouble and senior forward Ed Morrow Jr. struggling, grad transfer Jayce Johnson played 15 minutes and is moving better after a knee sprain caused him to miss the first two games of the season. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Marquette 73, Davidson 63: Howard scores 40 to lead Golden Eagles," 28 Nov. 2019 Mired by foul trouble in the first half, Nikola Jokic finished with 9 points and 5 assists. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Nuggets get one starter back, suffer injuries to two others in win over Heat," 5 Nov. 2019 But the 6-foot-3 junior also ranked among the top five in turnovers (3.2 per game) and often disappeared because of foul trouble or when games turned lopsided. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "For Stanford’s Daejon Davis to evolve, ‘mental toughness is everything’," 2 Nov. 2019 That discrepancy often led to foul trouble early in his starts, as opponents attempted to back him down from the opening tip. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, "Clippers coach Doc Rivers is experimenting with his most lethal starting lineup yet," 15 Oct. 2019 Winston battled foul trouble and poor shooting early, looking understandably fatigued from a week of raw emotions after his younger brother, Zachary, died on Saturday. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State basketball survives Myles Powell, Seton Hall in 'March game in November'," 15 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Aaron Thompson, Nze, Golden and Khalif Battle joined McDermott on the bench with two fouls each. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Baldwin's clutch finish pushes Butler past Stanford for Hall of Fame title," 27 Nov. 2019 The senior All-American was held scoreless in the first half, sitting the final 9:56 with two fouls. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Tom Izzo apologizes to Michigan State basketball fans after upset loss to Virginia Tech," 26 Nov. 2019 Omersa was ineffective, with four fouls in five minutes, while Demir struggled to shoot (4 for 16) off the bench. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Gophers coach Pitino finds worry about his team at the grocery store," 20 Nov. 2019 Nelson rotated through Hunter, Turiaf and Morrow before George, with six fouls, came in for the final 3:29 as the Warriors were assessed a technical. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "How are Warriors navigating a barrage of injuries? ‘All hands on deck’," 18 Nov. 2019 The game was knotted at 27 midway through the second quarter and all-purpose team leader Mikayla Pivec was on the bench with two fouls when Goodman buried a three-pointer. oregonlive, "Beavers get an emotional lift from Kat Tudor and 24 points from Taylor Jones to thump DePaul," 15 Nov. 2019 Isaiah Whaley had a rough night, with four fouls in his first five minutes on the court, but ended up getting six points and four rebounds in 10 minutes. Dom Amore, courant.com, "UConn men still too ‘nice’ for Dan Hurley and other takeaways from the Huskies’ win over Sacred Heart," 9 Nov. 2019 His only statistical contribution was one blocked shot to go with two fouls. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Kahlil Whitney shines, more from Kentucky basketball's exhibition win over Kentucky State," 1 Nov. 2019 Both Rubio and Booker were playing with five fouls. Duane Rankin, azcentral, "Phoenix Suns get explanation about why clock wasn't reviewed in loss to Utah Jazz," 29 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That resulted in two steals against UAB on Friday; both led to free throws after he was fouled at the rim. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, "John Calipari thinks Ashton Hagans might be the best point guard in the country," 2 Dec. 2019 After he was fouled going for the rebound, sophomore wing Aaron Wiggins launched a 3 just seven seconds into the shot clock. Don Markus, baltimoresun.com, "Three takeaways from No. 5 Maryland’s 84-63 win over Marquette in Orlando Invitational championship," 2 Dec. 2019 Nnaji didn’t take a single field goal after halftime, though he was fouled on two plays that likely would have resulted in shot attempts. Bruce Pascoe, azcentral, "Zeke Nnaji, Jemarl Baker lead Arizona Wildcats basketball to big win over New Mexico State," 17 Nov. 2019 Liechty certainly showed no signs of fatigue after he was fouled outside of five meters. Matt Szabo, Daily Pilot, "High School Male Athlete of the Week: Eli Liechty quickly emerging for Newport Harbor water polo," 19 Oct. 2019 Darío Benedetto leveled for Marseille in the 23rd but Serhou Guirassy restored Amiens’ advantage from the penalty spot four minutes from halftime after he had been fouled by Duje Caleta-Car. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Marseille loses 3-1 at Amiens in Ligue 1," 4 Oct. 2019 Then snagging a rebound on the next play off a Parker miss, she was fouled. Alexa Philippou, courant.com, "Alyssa Thomas, team defense lead the way as the Connecticut Sun defeat L.A. Sparks 84-75 in Game 1," 18 Sep. 2019 He was fouled while taking a 3-pointer with one-tenth of a second in regulation and the U.S. down by two on Tuesday. Tim Reynolds, The Denver Post, "Team USA forward Jayson Tatum to miss 2 games with ankle sprain," 4 Sep. 2019 The Fever tried to go inside to Candice Dupree on the next possession, but she was fouled. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "Fever falter down the stretch, lose close game to Aces," 10 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb He was fed spoiled milk, an old orange and foul-smelling oatmeal, according to the lawsuit. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Cuyahoga County Jail inmate pepper-sprayed by officer on day he was supposed to be released, lawsuit says," 27 Nov. 2019 No harm, no foul Despite their impressive size, humpback whales are filter feeders who gulp down krill and other plankton, as well as small fish like sardines, juvenile salmon, and herring. Sarah Keartes, National Geographic, "How a humpback whale ended up with a sea lion in its mouth," 30 July 2019 But, cut off from the rest of the city by the foul-smelling Washington City Canal, its isolated grounds attracted muggers and other scoundrels looking for easy prey. Smithsonian, "The Hard-Drinking Early Smithsonian Naturalists of the Megatherium Club," 4 Sep. 2019 The rookie slugger narrowly missed a grand slam down the right field line when a crew chief review determined the ball sliced just foul, upholding the initial call on the field. Kollin Miller, courant.com, "Mets beat Royals 4-1 behind deGrom, Alonso," 18 Aug. 2019 Replay appeared to show the ball go foul, but umpires ruled it a home run after review, anyway. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, "A’s head into the break on sizzle," 7 July 2019 In the field: With one out in the ninth inning, Goodrum — who has limited experience playing first base — let a slow roller go foul. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers' win streak ends after loss to Kansas City Royals, 3-2," 20 Apr. 2018 The Giants second baseman clearly thought his two-out, high fly ball down the right-field line was going foul. Mike Digiovanna, latimes.com, "Joe Panik's homer gives Giants a 1-0 lead," 30 Mar. 2018 Seattle spoiled 23 of his 98 pitches foul but swung and missed 16 times. Chandler Rome, ExpressNews.com, "Houston’s Justin Verlander becomes majors’ first 15-game winner as Astros beat Mariners," 4 Aug. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for foul

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for foul

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Foul.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fouled. Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for foul

How to pronounce foul (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on foul

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for foul

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with foul

Spanish Central: Translation of foul

Nglish: Translation of foul for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foul for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about foul

Comments on foul

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


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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