1 : to talk or act foolishly
Did You Know?
Footle will be more familiar to speakers of British English than it is to speakers of American English. Its likely source is the seldom-used footer, meaning "to waste time." That word is etymologically connected with fouter (also spelled foutra), a word referring to something of little value or someone worthless or bungling. But the link between footle and footer is speculative. What we can say with confidence is that footle is a verb of 19th century origin that—along with the derivative adjective footling (as in "a footling amateur")—is still apt when discussing foolish or trifling people or things.
"A very British invention…, the steam locomotive, derived as it was from [George] Stephenson's nippy Rocket machine on parallel tracks, and the experiments of a young boy called James Watt, who footled about with a spoon in the steam from his aunt's kettle." — John Lewis-Stempel, The Express Online (U.K.), 5 Aug. 2018
"I left the convent with an ability to curtsey, two rubbish A-levels and a large repertoire of slightly scandalous songs. I footled around for a year, wasted three years at university, footled around a bit more and then finally did what I'd wanted to do all along—go to drama school…." — Dillie Keane, The Guardian (London), 19 Aug. 2015
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