any treacherous or unfair dealing, especially involving murder: We feared that he had met with foul play.
unfair conduct in a game.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use foul play in a sentence
There was no evidence of foul play when he was found in his cell.
The family of a missing 72-year-old Lorton woman who investigators say may be the victim of foul play pleaded for the public’s help in locating her Tuesday as authorities announced a $20,000 reward in the case.Family of missing Lorton woman asks for help in locating her | Justin Jouvenal | June 15, 2021 | Washington Post
People who knew the two women, including Conner’s father, who spoke at the vigil, have said the cause of death for both women had yet to be determined, but there is no evidence of foul play such as physical violence.
When he checked in days later and found tire tracks, he figured foul play was afoot.Bee theft is almost a perfect crime—but there’s a new sheriff in town | Andrew Zaleski | February 9, 2021 | Popular-Science
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, officials said, but foul play is not suspected.Man identified after being found in house that burned in Laurel | Martin Weil | December 2, 2020 | Washington Post
Father Joel Román Salazar died in a car crash in 2013; his death was ruled an accident, but the suspicion of foul play persists.
Miller took particular exception to a post in which Kelley had worried she might fall victim to foul play.
Shahid quietly asked her to lift a finger if foul play had been at work.
While a suicide note has not yet been found, police do not suspect foul play.Fashion Designer—and Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend—L’Wren Scott, Found Dead | Erin Cunningham | March 17, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
And still, there are the still fringe conspiracy theorists who believe there was foul play involved instead.Addiction & Fame: How Flappy Bird is the App Store’s Grunge Moment | Leigh Alexander | February 12, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
But it was strongly rumoured that there had been foul play, peculation, even forgery.The History of England from the Accession of James II. | Thomas Babington Macaulay
I felt sure there had been foul play of some sort, but Lisa was sure those girls had exchanged the babies' clothes on purpose.Marjorie's Busy Days | Carolyn Wells
If there had been foul play, whoever had been concerned in it had removed all traces long ago.A Frontier Mystery | Bertram Mitford
We are not going to give you in custody, for the coroner found that the man had not died by foul play.The Ranger Boys and the Border Smugglers | Claude A. Labelle
More faults of the kind were discovered, and as they always happened in the same watch, there was a suspicion of foul play.Heroes of the Telegraph | J. Munro
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
Other 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 Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.