[foo t-ling]

adjective Informal.

foolish; silly: ridiculous, footling remarks.
trifling or useless.

Origin of footling

First recorded in 1895–1900; footle + -ing2


[foo t-l]Informal.

verb (used without object), foot·led, foot·ling.

to act or talk in a foolish or silly way.


nonsense; foolishness; silliness.

Origin of footle

1890–95; origin uncertain; cf. footy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for footling

Historical Examples of footling

  • Seems as if everything were too small and footling to matter.


    Mary Cholmondeley

  • I wouldn't lose this day at Pompeii for a shipload of footling schoolmasters.


    M. Leonora Eyles

  • "I s'pose we'll just keep on footling about here till the blooming war's over," he growled.

  • Only a couple of days ago I was compelled to take him off a case because his handling of it was so footling.

    Right Ho, Jeeves

    P. G. Wodehouse

  • For the life of me, I can't see why we should carry these footling little nations on our shoulders.

British Dictionary definitions for footling



informal silly, trivial, or petty


verb (intr)

(often foll by around or about) to loiter aimlessly; potter
to talk nonsense


rare foolishness

Word Origin for footle

C19: probably from French foutre to copulate with, from Latin futuere
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 footling



"to trifle," 1892, from dialectal footer "to trifle," footy "mean, paltry" (1752), perhaps from French se foutre "to care nothing," from Old French foutre "to copulate with," from Latin futuere, originally "to strike, thrust" (cf. confute). But OED derives the English dialect words from foughty (c.1600), from Dutch vochtig or Danish fugtig "damp, musty;" related to fog (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper