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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for folly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It had been folly enough while he believed that she stood ready to accept him and his wealth.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • It is worse than folly to expect good from the way that things are now managed.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • He had but the vaguest idea of the folly that possessed her.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • But this was moderate, as the Edgware "folly" reached £250,000.

  • He must suffer more, must lose more, must pay more with happiness for his folly.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
British Dictionary definitions for folly


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 folly

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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