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[foo-lish] /ˈfu lɪʃ/
resulting from or showing a lack of sense; ill-considered; unwise:
a foolish action, a foolish speech.
lacking forethought or caution.
trifling, insignificant, or paltry.
Origin of foolish
First recorded in 1250-1300, foolish is from the Middle English word folish, foolish. See fool1, -ish1
Related forms
foolishly, adverb
foolishness, noun
overfoolish, adjective
overfoolishly, adverb
overfoolishness, noun
quasi-foolish, adjective
quasi-foolishly, adverb
unfoolish, adjective
unfoolishly, adverb
unfoolishness, noun
1, 2. senseless, vacant, vapid, simple, witless. Foolish, fatuous, silly, inane, stupid, asinine imply weakness of intellect and lack of judgment. Foolish implies lack of common sense or good judgment or, sometimes, weakness of mind: a foolish decision; The child seems foolish. Fatuous implies being not only foolish, dull, and vacant in mind, but complacent and highly self-satisfied as well: fatuous and self-important; fatuous answers. Silly denotes extreme and conspicuous foolishness; it may also refer to pointlessness of jokes, remarks, etc.: silly and senseless behavior; a perfectly silly statement. Inane applies to silliness that is notably lacking in content, sense, or point: inane questions that leave one no reply. Stupid implies natural slowness or dullness of intellect, or, sometimes, a benumbed or dazed state of mind; it is also used to mean foolish or silly: well-meaning but stupid; rendered stupid by a blow; It is stupid to do such a thing. Asinine originally meant like an ass; it applies to witlessly stupid conversation or conduct and suggests a lack of social grace or perception: He failed to notice the reaction to his asinine remarks. 1. imprudent, unreasonable, foolhardy, irrational; thoughtless, nonsensical, ridiculous, absurd, pointless, preposterous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for foolishness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Your foolishness ended yesterday with the return of Reggie Pollock.

    The Kingdom Round the Corner Coningsby Dawson
  • My cruel fate pursued me—or was it punishment for my foolishness?

  • I—I know what that old negro says is all foolishness, but—there is something the matter with Mr. Michaelis.

    The Faith Healer William Vaughn Moody
  • I despise this foolishness as much as yo', but I can't run away from it.

  • But what was there to flatter the vanity in the belief of a proclamation which was foolishness to the Greeks?

    Modern Skepticism C. J. Ellicott
British Dictionary definitions for foolishness


unwise; silly
resulting from folly or stupidity
ridiculous or absurd; not worthy of consideration
weak-minded; simple
an archaic word for insignificant
Derived Forms
foolishly, adverb
foolishness, noun
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 foolishness



early 14c., from fool (n.) + -ish. Related: Foolishly; foolishness. Old English words for this were dysig, stunt, dol.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with foolishness
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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