any treacherous or unfair dealing, especially involving murder: We feared that he had met with foul play.
unfair conduct in a game.
Origin of foul play
First recorded in 1600–10
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for foul play
unfair or treacherous conduct esp with violence
a violation of the rules in a game or sport
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
Idioms and Phrases with foul play
Unfair or treacherous action, especially involving violence. For example, The police suspected he had met with foul play. This term originally was and still is applied to unfair conduct in a sport or game and was being used figuratively by the late 1500s. Shakespeare used it in The Tempest (1:2): “What foul play had we, that we came from thence?”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
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