fol·​ly | \ ˈfä-lē How to pronounce folly (audio) \
plural follies

Definition of folly

1 : lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight his folly in thinking he could not be caught
2a : criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct
b obsolete : evil, wickedness especially : lewd behavior
3 : a foolish act or idea The prank was a youthful folly.
4 : an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking Paying so much for that land was folly, since it was all rocks and scrub trees.
5 : an often extravagant picturesque building erected to suit a fanciful taste

Examples of folly in a Sentence

the folly of driving fast on steep, winding roads his folly in thinking that he would not be noticed The folly of such an action should be apparent to everyone. the follies of the modern world the famous Ziegfeld Follies of the 1920s
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Recent Examples on the Web The New York Giants tried this folly with their young standout cornerback Jason Sehorn in an exhibition game in 1998. Steve Svekis,, 28 Nov. 2021 The journalistic folly in believing that events more than a year before the 2014 congressional elections would have epic political consequences was adroitly captured by Ezra Klein in a Washington Post commentary. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 22 Oct. 2021 If the filmmakers’ first folly was to turn to spiritualism, the second was to prop up spiritualism with pseudoscience. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 Designed by the gifted fantasist Thomas Heatherwick, the steel folly has had a rough time adapting to reality. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 30 July 2021 No Sudden Move takes pleasure in overpopulating the plot with avoidable errors, the kinds of things more careful crooks would have seen coming — the folly that, more than any one part of the plot itself, comes to define the movie. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 7 July 2021 In dropping to 1-8 by losing, 35-22, to the University of Rhode Island, which plays in the division below UMass, the hubris of trying to change not just a football program but a regional culture was exposed in all its folly., 8 Nov. 2021 Along with her partner in work and love, Marco Capaldo, Kikka founded 16Arlington, a label that has single-handedly redefined the spirit of London fashion and given style back its folly and joy. Lena Dunham, Vogue, 5 Nov. 2021 The sooner Texas and Oklahoma can get to the SEC (going back to that secret kept from A&M over the first part of this year), perhaps the sooner this cross-division folly can end. Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News, 22 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'folly.' 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 folly

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for folly

Middle English folie, from Anglo-French, from fol fool

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Time Traveler for folly

Time Traveler

The first known use of folly was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near folly

follow up on (something)



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Last Updated

2 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Folly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for folly



English Language Learners Definition of folly

: the lack of good sense or judgment : foolishness
: a foolish act or idea : foolish behavior
: a very unusual or fancy building that was built in a garden for decoration or amusement in the past


fol·​ly | \ ˈfä-lē How to pronounce folly (audio) \
plural follies

Kids Definition of folly

1 : lack of good sense His own folly caused his trouble.
2 : a foolish act or idea That plan was sheer folly.

More from Merriam-Webster on folly

Nglish: Translation of folly for Spanish Speakers

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


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