be nobody's fool, to be wise or shrewd.

Origin of fool

1225–75; Middle English fol, fool < Old French fol < Latin follis bellows, bag; cf. follis
Related formsun·fooled, adjectiveun·fool·ing, adjectivewell-fooled, adjective

Synonyms for fool

Antonyms for fool

1. genius.



noun British Cookery.

a dish made of fruit, scalded or stewed, crushed and mixed with cream or the like: gooseberry fool.

Origin of fool

First recorded in 1590–1600; probably special use of fool1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fool

Contemporary Examples of fool

Historical Examples of fool

  • I'm forty-two and not so much of a fool that I ain't a little bit of a physician.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Its visor grinned at him--the fool, the tricked, the supplanted.


    William J. Locke

  • He had been made a fool of, and would stand that from nobody.


    William J. Locke

  • You've made me your butt, your fool, your doer of trivial offices.


    William J. Locke

  • "Don't be a fool, Buck," said Jasper, glancing over his shoulder.

British Dictionary definitions for fool




a person who lacks sense or judgement
a person who is made to appear ridiculous
(formerly) a professional jester living in a royal or noble household
obsolete an idiot or imbecilethe village fool
form the fool Caribbean to play the fool or behave irritatingly
no fool a wise or sensible person
play the fool or act the fool to deliberately act foolishly; indulge in buffoonery


(tr) to deceive (someone), esp in order to make him or her look ridiculous
(intr; foll by with, around with, or about with) informal to act or play (with) irresponsibly or aimlesslyto fool around with a woman
(intr) to speak or act in a playful, teasing, or jesting manner
(tr foll by away) to squander; fritterhe fooled away a fortune
fool along US to move or proceed in a leisurely way


informal short for foolish

Word Origin for fool

C13: from Old French fol mad person, from Late Latin follis empty-headed fellow, from Latin: bellows; related to Latin flāre to blow




mainly British a dessert made from a purée of fruit with cream or custardgooseberry fool

Word Origin for fool

C16: perhaps from fool 1
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 fool

late 13c., "silly or stupid person," from Old French fol "madman, insane person; idiot; rogue; jester," also "blacksmith's bellows," also an adjective meaning "mad, insane" (12c., Modern French fou), from Latin follis "bellows, leather bag" (see follicle); in Vulgar Latin used with a sense of "windbag, empty-headed person." Cf. also Sanskrit vatula- "insane," literally "windy, inflated with wind."

The word has in mod.Eng. a much stronger sense than it had at an earlier period; it has now an implication of insulting contempt which does not in the same degree belong to any of its synonyms, or to the derivative foolish. [OED]

Meaning "jester, court clown" first attested late 14c., though it is not always possible to tell whether the reference is to a professional entertainer or an amusing lunatic on the payroll. As the name of a kind of custard dish, it is attested from 1590s (the food also was called trifle, which may be the source of the name).

There is no foole to the olde foole [Heywood, 1546]

Feast of Fools (early 14c.), from Medieval Latin festum stultorum) refers to the burlesque festival celebrated in some churches on New Year's Day in medieval times. Fool's gold "iron pyrite" is from 1829. Fool's paradise "state of illusory happiness" is from mid-15c. Foolosopher, a most useful insult, turns up in a 1549 translation of Erasmus. Fool's ballocks is described in OED as "an old name" for the green-winged orchid.


mid-14c., "to be foolish, act the fool," from fool (n.). The meaning "to make a fool of" is recorded from 1590s. Also as a verb 16c.-17c. was foolify. Related: Fooled; fooling. Fool around is 1875 in the sense of "pass time idly," 1970s in sense of "have sexual adventures."


"foolish, silly," considered modern U.S. colloquial, but it is attested from early 13c., from fool (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with fool


In addition to the idioms beginning with fool

  • fool and his money are soon parted, a
  • fool around
  • fool away
  • fools rush in where angels fear to tread

also see:

  • make a fool of
  • nobody's fool
  • no fool like an old fool
  • not suffer fools gladly
  • play the fool
  • take for (a fool)

Also see underfoolish.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.