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[fol-ee] /ˈfɒl i/
noun, plural follies for 2–6.
the state or quality of being foolish; lack of understanding or sense.
a foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; absurdity:
the folly of performing without a rehearsal.
a costly and foolish undertaking; unwise investment or expenditure.
Architecture. a whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, commemorate a person or event, etc.: found especially in England in the 18th century.
follies, a theatrical revue.
Obsolete. wickedness; wantonness.
Origin of folly
1175-1225; Middle English folie < Old French, derivative of fol, fou foolish, mad. See fool1
Related forms
superfolly, noun, plural superfollies.
2. imprudence, rashness, mistake, foolishness, indiscretion, injudiciousness; madness, lunacy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for follies
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All he said was of a piece with these follies; all he did savoured of utter lethargy.

    The Danish History, Books I-IX Saxo Grammaticus ("Saxo the Learned")
  • Well, if it be my time to quit the stage, Adieu to all the follies of the age!

    Essay on Man Alexander Pope
  • All this, it must be remembered, was in entire ignorance of the follies perpetrated at the War Department during those days.

  • follies have neither beauty nor merit, unless they are complete.

    Samuel Brohl & Company Victor Cherbuliez
  • I believe, my dear friends, that I have given you a sufficient preventative against all these follies.

  • I will keep my follies to console you after you have lost your daughter.

    Dona Perfecta B. Perez Galdos
  • How full it seemed to him at that moment of follies and mistakes, bringing bitter tears not to himself alone but to others also.

British Dictionary definitions for follies


noun (pl) -lies
the state or quality of being foolish; stupidity; rashness
a foolish action, mistake, idea, etc
a building in the form of a castle, temple, etc, built to satisfy a fancy or conceit, often of an eccentric kind
(pl) (theatre) an elaborately costumed revue
  1. evil; wickedness
  2. lewdness; wantonness
Word Origin
C13: from Old French folie madness, from fou mad; see fool1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for follies

"revue with glamorous female performers," 1908, from French folies (mid-19c.), from folie (see folly), probably in its sense of "extravagance" (cf. extravaganza).



early 13c., "mental weakness; unwise conduct" (in Middle English including wickedness, lewdness, madness), from Old French folie (12c.) "folly, madness, stupidity," from fol (see fool (n.)). Sense of "costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder" is attested from 1650s. Used since Middle English of place names, especially country estates, as a form of Old French folie in its meaning "delight." Meaning "glamorous theatrical revue with lots of pretty girls" is from 1880, from French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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