[ foul-uhp ]
See synonyms for foul-up on
  1. a condition of difficulty or disorder brought on by inefficiency, stupidity, etc.

  2. failure of a mechanical part to operate correctly.

  1. a person who habitually makes mistakes; bungler.

Origin of foul-up

1950–55, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase foul up Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use foul-up in a sentence

  • “Peters claims a foul up at the turning point,” said some one of the gentlemen.

  • He worked on the line next to Ernie, and had witnessed the foul-up this morning.

    All Day Wednesday | Richard Olin
  • I've spent a lot of time setting things up so he could hardly help but foul up and we could bounce him, but what happens?

  • "I'm glad I didn't foul up your test completely, anyway," said Bonnie slowly.

    The Colonists | Raymond F. Jones
  • It was only by the narrowest hair, but that had been enough to foul up my plans.

    A Spaceship Named McGuire | Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for foul up

foul up

  1. (tr) to bungle; mismanage

  2. (tr) to make dirty; contaminate

  1. to be or cause to be blocked, choked, or entangled

  1. a state of confusion or muddle caused by bungling

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with foul-up


Blunder or cause to blunder; botch, ruin. For example, He's fouled up this report, but I think we can fix it, or Our plans were fouled up by the bad weather. This expression is widely believed to have originated as a euphemism for fuck up. [Colloquial; c. 1940]

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