\ 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

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

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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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Boston has won its last six games in which Tatum attempted at least 10 foul shots. Adam Himmelsbach,, 15 June 2022 After making 24 of 25 free throws in Game 6, the Heat missed eight foul shots in the first half and made only one of their first 10 threes. Globe Staff,, 29 May 2022 The Bucks will limit second chances on their end and limit foul shots but Boston's offense was just a bit more consistent over the year. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 2 May 2022 Jazz clinging to one-point margin … hit two foul shots … hit two more free throws to close out the game. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Apr. 2022 Instead, with the Spurs ahead by a point, Murray went to the line and made two foul shots to ice the game. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 28 Mar. 2022 Jones connected on all three foul shots and the Cardinal carried a 45-40 advantage into the fourth quarter. Steve Kroner, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Mar. 2022 Kaiya Wynn's turnover led to Van Lith's easy transition layup, then Wynn missed a pair of foul shots and Burrell missed an open 3-pointer from the corner in the waning minutes that allowed Louisville to stretch the lead. Dave Skretta, ajc, 27 Mar. 2022 Drake Jeffries hit a pair of foul shots to get the Cowboys within six with 14 seconds left. Mitch Stacy,, 16 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The game started with some excitement as Oklahoma first baseman Blake Robertson flipped over the Notre Dame dugout rail while catching Cole’s pop foul on the first pitch of the game. Eric Olson, Chicago Tribune, 19 June 2022 Marcus Smart was whistled for a technical foul then an offensive foul in a one-second span early in the fourth. Janie Mccauley, Hartford Courant, 14 June 2022 Technical foul on Marcus Smart for arguing with the referees. Nicole Yang,, 14 June 2022 It was ruled a flagrant-1 foul, which meant Golden State would retain possession after a free throw. New York Times, 8 June 2022 Video review then reversed a blocking foul on the Heat’s Bam Adebayo to a Brown charge with 12.1 seconds left, effectively ending it. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 27 May 2022 Those risks could be giving a verbal warning to a player rather than a yellow card, or even allowing the match to continue after a foul if the team that was fouled has possession. Exness Contributor, Forbes, 17 May 2022 In fact, Moncrief got to shoot free throws on account of the initial foul. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3 May 2022 Jaylen Brown never looked the same after his second foul. Globe Staff,, 6 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Randle then hit two free throws after DeRozan’s offensive foul to put it away. Brian Mahoney,, 28 Mar. 2022 The Celtics go into the half with a five-point lead because Marcus Smart managed to steal the ball from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who then made the poor decision to foul Smart on a deep half-court heave. Katie Mcinerney,, 15 May 2022 With the Jazz having a 3-point lead and eight seconds left, Snyder told the Jazz to foul to force the Rockets to go to the free-throw line. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Mar. 2022 Dutcher didn’t have a timeout, but his players were in front of the bench and were told to foul if Bradley made both to put the Aztecs up three. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Feb. 2022 Teams would foul him freely, especially late in close games, forcing him to the free-throw line. WSJ, 11 May 2022 Woods made 11 of 14, many of those coming late as the Wolverines were forced to foul. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 3 Mar. 2022 Donovan noted the Bulls had improved their shot-fake discipline, only to foul a pair of 3-point shooters in the second half to give up six free throws. Julia Poe,, 17 Mar. 2022 New Mexico State’s Teddy Allen burned UConn for 37 points, as defenders continued to foul him in the act of taking jump shots and sending him to the line. Dom Amore,, 29 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Before Conforto came up, Francisco Lindor took an 0-2 curve off his foot after ripping a liner down the right-field line that just hooked foul. Rob Maaddi, Star Tribune, 7 Apr. 2021 Kuminga can be a bit foul-prone against crafty scorers. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 May 2022 After popping out foul to the catcher to end the first inning, Meadows was replaced by Willi Castro in the field to start the second, with Castro playing left and Robbie Grossman shifting from left to right. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, 15 May 2022 In the sixth, pinch-hitter Gabby Stagner narrowly missed a game-tying home run, but the ball sailed foul. Creg Stephenson |, al, 13 May 2022 Báez was close to hitting a homer off Reyes, but the ball snuck just foul and was upheld by review. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 13 May 2022 But in this case, there was blood -- yet still no foul. Emmett Prosser, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 20 Apr. 2022 Crowder later clipped Timberwolves pest Patrick Beverley in the head to draw a Flagrant 1 foul after the video review, putting Beverley at the line after time in the first half expired. Dave Campbell, ajc, 24 Mar. 2022 Cano stayed in the box and hung in against a breaking ball, pulling it foul but swinging with confidence. New York Times, 16 Mar. 2022 See More

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 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 1


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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near foul



foul anchor

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Statistics for foul

Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Foul.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for foul


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on foul

Nglish: Translation of foul for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foul for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about foul


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