- to prevent the success of; frustrate; balk: Loyal troops foiled his attempt to overthrow the government.
- to keep (a person) from succeeding in an enterprise, plan, etc.
- Archaic. a defeat; check; repulse.
Origin of foil1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- metal in the form of very thin sheets: aluminum foil.
- the metallic backing applied to glass to form a mirror.
- a thin layer of metal placed under a gem in a closed setting to improve its color or brilliancy.
- a person or thing that makes another seem better by contrast: The straight man was an able foil to the comic.
- Architecture. an arc or a rounded space between cusps, as in the tracery of a window or other ornamentation.
- an airfoil or hydrofoil.
- to cover or back with foil.
- to set off by contrast.
Origin of foil2
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- a flexible four-sided rapier having a blunt point.
- foils, the art or practice of fencing with this weapon, points being made by touching the trunk of the opponent's body with the tip of the weapon.
Origin of foil3
Examples from the Web for foil
If McConnell really thinks that, then why not foil their scheme by voting yes?The Gender-Pay Gap: It’s Real, and Yes, It’s Sexism
September 27, 2014
French and Crown one rib rack and season with salt and pepper, cover exposed bones with foil, cook in oven at 350 for 2.5 hours.Epic Meal Empire’s Meat Monstrosities: From the Bacon Spider to the Cinnabattleship
July 26, 2014
The image really serves as a foil to the victim on the tape.True Detective’s Red Herring: Actress Erin Moriarty, Who Plays Marty’s Daughter, Tells All
March 10, 2014
Erica is the foil to the unstable, decaying Beth—a kind, virtuous, smooth-skinned girl next door.Anna Kendrick: Queen Bee of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival
January 23, 2014
Frank, meanwhile, is a man of few words—a foil to the wide-eyed, chatty Jon.Michael Fassbender Plays A Rocker in A Papier-Mâché Head in the Strange Sundance Film ‘Frank’
January 18, 2014
As a foil to his austerity, therefore, she would be audaciously gay in his presence.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
I ask, why is Tommy to be always the foil of Mr. Barlow to this extent?The Uncommercial Traveller
He then, replacing the button, laid the foil down, and resumed his seat and his discourse.David Elginbrod
Our hero was alive to the emergency, and resolved to foil him.The Young Miner
Horatio Alger, Jr.
As one fences in the dark, instinctively, so she kept him a foil's length away.The Lure of the Mask
- to baffle or frustrate (a person, attempt, etc)
- hunting (of hounds, hunters, etc) to obliterate the scent left by a hunted animal or (of a hunted animal) to run back over its own trail
- archaic to repulse or defeat (an attack or assailant)
- hunting any scent that obscures the trail left by a hunted animal
- archaic a setback or defeat
- metal in the form of very thin sheetsgold foil; tin foil
- the thin metallic sheet forming the backing of a mirror
- a thin leaf of shiny metal set under a gemstone to add brightness or colour
- a person or thing that gives contrast to another
- architect a small arc between cusps, esp as used in Gothic window tracery
- short for aerofoil, hydrofoil
- to back or cover with foil
- Also: foliate architect to ornament (windows) with foils
- a light slender flexible sword tipped by a button and usually having a bell-shaped guard
Word Origin and History for foil
c.1300, foilen "to spoil a trace or scent by running over it," irregularly from Old French fouler "trample," from Vulgar Latin *fullare "to clean cloth" (by treading on it), from Latin fullo "one who cleans cloth, fuller," of unknown origin.
Hence, "to overthrow, defeat" (1540s). Sense of "frustrate the efforts of" first recorded 1560s. Related: Foiled; foiling. Foiled again! as a cry of defeat and dismay is from at least 1847.
"thin sheet of metal," early 14c., from Old French fueille "leaf," from Latin folia "leaves," plural (mistaken for fem. singular) of folium "leaf" (see folio).
The sense of "one who enhances another by contrast" (1580s) is from the practice of backing a gem with metal foil to make it shine more brilliantly. The meaning "light sword used in fencing" (1590s) could be from this sense, or from foil (v.). The modern sense of "metallic food wrap" is from 1946.