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verb (used with object)
  1. to make dirty or filthy; soil; defile; sully: a bird that befouls its own nest.
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Origin of befoul

First recorded in 1275–1325, befoul is from the Middle English word bi-foulen. See be-, foul
Related formsbe·foul·er, nounbe·foul·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for befoul

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • You see I have put gloves on, that I may not befoul myself by touching you.

    Debts of Honor

    Maurus Jkai

  • They will close in on you tomorrow—you and all the dirty vermin that befoul these cliffs.

    Wappin' Wharf

    Charles S. Brooks

  • I could not prevent myself from saying, "Do you think it is nice to befoul your own nest?"

  • And they deface and spoil the beauty of the land and befoul the water courses.

  • Can anything be so bad as the living bush which bleeds and talks, or the Harpies who befoul Aeneas's dinner?

British Dictionary definitions for befoul


  1. (tr) to make dirty or foul; soil; defile
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Derived Formsbefouler, nounbefoulment, 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

Word Origin and History for befoul


early 14c., from be- + foul (v.). Related: Befouled; befouling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper