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as in disgusting
causing intense displeasure, disgust, or resentment a foul taste that made us gag

Synonyms & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

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as in vulgar
depicting or referring to sexual matters in a way that is unacceptable in polite society that movie features nonstop foul language

Synonyms & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

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foul

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verb

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Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective foul differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of foul are dirty, filthy, nasty, and squalid. While all these words mean "conspicuously unclean or impure," foul implies extreme offensiveness and an accumulation of what is rotten or stinking; it can also describe, for example, loathsome behavior.

a foul-smelling open sewer
a foul story of lust and greed

When can dirty be used instead of foul?

Although the words dirty and foul have much in common, dirty emphasizes the presence of dirt more than an emotional reaction to it or, figuratively, stresses meanness or despicableness.

a dirty littered street
don't ask me to do your dirty work

When could filthy be used to replace foul?

The meanings of filthy and foul largely overlap; however, filthy carries a strong suggestion of offensiveness and typically of gradually accumulated dirt that begrimes and besmears. Figuratively, it can also describe disgusting obscenity.

a stained greasy floor, utterly filthy
filthy street language

How is nasty related to other words for foul?

Nasty applies to what is actually foul or is repugnant to one expecting freshness, cleanliness, or sweetness; in practice, however, nasty is often weakened to the point of being no more than a synonym of unpleasant or disagreeable. When used figuratively, nasty implies a peculiarly offensive unpleasantness.

it's a nasty job to clean up after a sick cat
had a nasty fall
his answer gave her a nasty shock
a stand-up comedian known for nasty humor

When would squalid be a good substitute for foul?

In some situations, the words squalid and foul are roughly equivalent. However, squalid adds to the idea of dirtiness and filth that of slovenly neglect. Distinctively, its figurative use implies sordidness as well as baseness and dirtiness.

squalid slums
engaged in a series of squalid affairs

Thesaurus Entries Near foul

Cite this Entry

“Foul.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/foul. Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

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