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.
- foul ball,
- foul line,
- foul marten,
- foul matter,
- foul one's nest
- to collide with, as ships.
- to come into conflict with; quarrel.
- to make an attack; assault.
Origin of foul
- 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