adjective, foul·er, foul·est.
- (of the underwater portion of a hull) encrusted and impeded with barnacles, seaweed, etc.
- (of a mooring place) involving inconveniences and dangers, as of colliding with vessels or other objects when swinging with the tide.
- (of the bottom of a body of water) affording a poor hold for an anchor (opposed to clean).
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- Baseball.to be put out by hitting a foul ball caught on the fly by a player on the opposing team.
- Basketball.to be expelled from a game for having committed more fouls than is allowed.
- to collide with, as ships.
- to come into conflict with; quarrel.
- to make an attack; assault.
Origin of foul
Synonyms for foul
Antonyms for foul
Related Words for foulputrid, vile, horrid, vicious, fetid, rotten, hateful, nasty, filthy, wicked, abusive, dirty, violation, offense, breach, infringement, error, clog, pollute, choke
Examples from the Web for foul
Contemporary Examples of foul
Father Joel Román Salazar died in a car crash in 2013; his death was ruled an accident, but the suspicion of foul play persists.Mexico’s Priests Are Marked for Murder
January 7, 2015
Miller took particular exception to a post in which Kelley had worried she might fall victim to foul play.The Mystery Woman Who Tried to Outdo Dillinger
September 29, 2014
She paints the current rodent situation as more than a foul inconvenience, and one that is a particular blight on poorer areas.Crowdsourcing NYC’s War on Rats
June 24, 2014
Shahid quietly asked her to lift a finger if foul play had been at work.Has Malala Become a Puppet of the West?
April 12, 2014
The two alleged ambassadors spiced their jokes with foul language.Just Joking? Bugged Russian Ambassadors Want to Annex Alaska and Miami
April 6, 2014
Historical Examples of foul
On that foul throng that wrought them wrong—on Jury and on Judge!
"Streams may spring from one source, and yet some be clear and some be foul," quoth she quickly.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
What did you, then, when you snatched her from her home by some foul trick?Fair Margaret
H. Rider Haggard
That was, in fact, the only blot on his father's honour—a foul and grave blot it was.Night and Morning, Complete
A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul.The Devil's Dictionary
- a violation of the rules
- (as modifier)a foul shot; a foul blow
- to come into conflict with
- nauticalto come into collision with
Word Origin for foul
Old English ful "rotten, unclean, vile, corrupt, offensive to the senses," from Proto-Germanic *fulaz (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian ful, Middle Dutch voul, Dutch vuil, Old High German fül, German faul, Gothic füls), from root *fu-, corresponding to PIE *pu-, perhaps from the sound made in reaction to smelling something bad (cf. Sanskrit puyati "rots, stinks," putih "foul, rotten;" Greek puon "discharge from a sore;" Latin pus "putrid matter," putere "to stink," putridus "rotten;" Lithuanian puviu "to rot").
Old English ful occasionally meant "ugly" (as contrasted with fæger (adj.), modern fair (adj.)), a sense frequently found in Middle English, and the cognate in Swedish is the usual word for "ugly." Of weather, first recorded late 14c. In the sporting sense of "irregular, unfair" it is first attested 1797, though foul play is recorded from mid-15c. Baseball sense of "out of play" attested by 1860. Foulmart was a Middle English word for "polecat" (from Old English mearð "marten").
Old English fulian "to become foul, rot," from ful (see foul (adj.)). Related: Fouled; fouling.
In addition to the idioms beginning with foul
- foul one's nest
- foul play
- foul up
- run afoul of