adverb, adjective

in a state of collision or entanglement: a ship with its shrouds afoul.

Nearby words

  1. aforehand,
  2. aforementioned,
  3. aforesaid,
  4. aforethought,
  5. aforetime,
  6. afoul of,
  7. afp,
  8. afr,
  9. afr-,
  10. afr.


    run/come/fall afoul of,
    1. to become entangled with: The boat ran afoul of the seaweed.
    2. to come into conflict with: The business had fallen afoul of the new government regulations.

Origin of afoul

An Americanism dating back to 1800–10; a-1 + foul



verb (used without object), ran, run, run·ning.

to go quickly by moving the legs more rapidly than at a walk and in such a manner that for an instant in each step all or both feet are off the ground.
to move with haste; act quickly: Run upstairs and get the iodine.
to depart quickly; take to flight; flee or escape: to run from danger.
to have recourse for aid, support, comfort, etc.: He shouldn't run to his parents with every little problem.
to make a quick trip or informal visit for a short stay at a place: to run up to New York; I will run over to see you after dinner.
to go around, rove, or ramble without restraint (often followed by about): to run about in the park.
to move, roll, or progress from momentum or from being hurled, kicked, or otherwise propelled: The wheel ran over the curb and into the street.
  1. to take part in a race or contest.
  2. to finish in a race or contest in a certain numerical position: The horse ran second.
to be or campaign as a candidate for election.
to migrate, as fish: to run in huge shoals.
to migrate upstream or inshore from deep water to spawn.
to move under continuing power or force, as of the wind, a motor, etc.: The car ran along the highway.
(of a ship, automobile, etc.) to be sailed or driven from a safe, proper, or given route: The ship ran aground.
to ply between places, as a vessel or conveyance: This bus runs between New Haven and Hartford.
to move, glide, turn, rotate, or pass easily, freely, or smoothly: A rope runs in a pulley.
to creep, trail, or climb, as growing vines: The ivy ran up the side of the house.
to come undone or to unravel, as stitches or a fabric: these stockings run easily.
to flow, as a liquid: Let the water run before you drink it.
to flow along, especially strongly, as a stream or the sea: The rapids ran over the rocks.
to empty or transfer contents: The river ran into the sea.
to appear, occur, or exist within a certain limited range; include a specific range of variations (usually followed by from): Your work runs from fair to bad.
to melt and flow or drip: Wax ran down the burning candle.
Golf. (of a golf ball) to bounce or roll along the ground just after landing from a stroke: The ball struck the green and ran seven feet past the hole.
to spread on being applied to a surface, as a liquid: Fresh paint ran over the window molding onto the pane.
to spread over a material when exposed to moisture: The dyes in this fabric are guaranteed not to run in washing.
to undergo a spreading of colors: materials that run when washed.
to flow forth as a discharge: Tears ran from her eyes.
to discharge or give passage to a liquid or fluid: Her eyes ran with tears.
to operate or function: How does your new watch run? Cars run on gasoline.
to be in operation: the noise of a dishwasher running.
to continue in operation: The furnace runs most of the day.
to elapse; pass or go by, as time: Time is running out, and we must hurry.
to pass into or meet with a certain state or condition: to run into debt; to run into trouble.
to get or become: The well ran dry.
to amount; total: The bill ran to $100.
to be stated or worded in a certain manner: The minutes of the last meeting run as follows.
  1. to accumulate, follow, or become payable in due course, as interest on a debt: Your interest runs from January 1st to December 31st.
  2. to make many withdrawals in rapid succession, as from a bank.
  1. to have legal force or effect, as a writ.
  2. to continue to operate.
  3. to go along with: The easement runs with the land.
to proceed, continue, or go: The story runs for eight pages.
to extend in a given direction: This road runs north to Litchfield.
to extend for a certain length: The unpaved section runs for eight miles.
to extend over a given surface: Shelves ran from floor to ceiling.
to be printed, as on a printing press: Two thousand copies ran before the typo was caught.
to appear in print or be published as a story, photograph, etc., in a newspaper, magazine, or the like: The account ran in all the papers. The political cartoon always runs on the editorial page.
to be performed on a stage or be played continually, as a play: The play ran for two years.
to occur or take place continuously, as a movie: The picture runs for two hours.
to pass quickly: A thought ran through his mind. Her eyes ran over the room.
to be disseminated, circulated, or spread rapidly: The news of his promotion ran all over town.
to continue or return persistently; recur: The old tune ran through his mind all day.
to have or tend to have or produce a specified character, quality, form, etc.: This novel runs to long descriptions. Her sister is fat too, but the family runs to being overweight.
to be or continue to be of a certain or average size, number, etc.: Potatoes are running large this year.
Nautical. to sail before the wind.

verb (used with object), ran, run, run·ning.

to move or run along (a surface, way, path, etc.): Every morning he ran the dirt path around the reservoir to keep in condition. She ran her fingers over the keyboard.
to traverse (a distance) in running: He ran the mile in just over four minutes.
to perform, compete in, or accomplish by or as by running: to run a race; to run an errand.
to go about freely on or in without supervision: permitting children to run the streets.
to ride or cause to gallop: to run a horse across a field.
to enter in a race: He ran his best filly in the Florida Derby.
to bring into a certain state by running: He ran himself out of breath trying to keep pace.
to trace, track, pursue or hunt, as game: to run deer on foot.
to drive (an animal) or cause to go by pursuing: to run a fox to cover; to run the stallion into the barn.
to leave, flee, or escape from: He ran town before the robbery was discovered.
to cause to ply between places, as a vessel or conveyance: to run a ferry between New York and New Jersey.
to convey or transport, as in a vessel or vehicle: I'll run you home in my car.
to cause to pass quickly: He ran his eyes over the letter. She ran a comb through her hair.
to get past or through: to run a blockade.
(of drivers or cyclists) to disregard (a red or amber traffic light) and continue ahead without stopping.
to smuggle (contraband goods): to run guns across the border.
to work, operate, or drive: Can you run a tractor?
to publish, print, or make copies of, as on a printing press (sometimes followed by off): Run off 3000 of these posters. The newspapers ran the story on page one.
to process, refine, manufacture, or subject to an analysis or treatment: The doctor wanted to run a blood test. The factory ran 50,000 gallons of paint a day.
to keep operating or going, as a machine: They ran the presses 24 hours a day.
to keep (a motor) idling for an indefinite period: On cold days he would run the car motor to prevent stalling.
to allow (a ship, automobile, etc.) to depart from a safe, proper, or given route, as by negligence or error: He ran the ship aground. She ran the car up on the curb.
to sponsor, support, or nominate (a person) as a candidate for election.
to manage or conduct: to run a business; to run one's own life.
Computers. to process (the instructions in a program) by computer.
(in some games, as billiards) to continue or complete a series of successful strokes, shots, or the like.
Cards. to lead a series (of one's assured tricks or winners in a given suit): He ran the heart suit before leading spades.
to expose oneself to or be exposed to (a chance, risk, etc.): Through his habitual lateness he ran the danger of being fired.
to cause (a liquid) to flow: to run the water for a bath.
to fill (a tub or bath) with water: She ran a hot tub for him.
to give forth or flow with (a liquid); pour forth or discharge: The well ran 500 barrels of oil daily.
to charge (an item or items) as on a charge account or to accumulate (bills) to be paid all at one time: He ran a large monthly tab at the club.
to cause to move easily, freely, or smoothly: to run a rope in a pulley.
Golf. to cause (a golf ball) to move forward along the ground after landing from a stroke: He ran his ball seven feet past the hole.
to sew or use a running stitch: to run a seam.
to cause stitches in (a garment or fabric) to unravel or come undone: to run a stocking on a protruding nail.
to bring, lead, or force into a certain state or condition: He ran his troops into an ambush. They ran themselves into debt.
to drive, force, or thrust: to run a nail into a board; to run one's head against a wall; to run one's hand into one's pocket.
to graze; pasture: They run sixty head of cattle on their ranch.
to extend (something) in a particular direction or to a given point or place: to run a partition across a room; to run a telephone cable from Boston to Buffalo.
Carpentry. to make (millwork) from boards.
to cause to fuse and flow, as metal for casting in a mold.
to draw, trace, or mark out, as a line: to run a line over a surface; to run a line through a word.
to cost (an amount or approximate amount): This watch runs $30.
to cost (a person) an amount or approximate amount: The car repair will run you a couple of hundred at least.


an act or instance, or a period of running: a five-minute run before breakfast.
a hurrying to or from some point, as on an errand: a run to reach the store before it closes.
a fleeing, especially in great haste; flight: a run from the police who were hot on his trail.
a running pace: The boys set out at a run.
an act or instance or a period of moving rapidly, as in a boat or automobile: a run to shore before the storm.
distance covered, as by racing, running, or during a trip: a three-mile run.
an act or instance or a period of traveling or moving between two places; trip: a truck on its daily run from farm to market; a nonstop run from Louisville to Memphis.
Computers. a single instance of carrying out the sequence of instructions in a program.
Golf. the distance that a golf ball moves along the ground after landing from a stroke: He got a seven-foot run with his chip shot.
a quick trip for a short stay at a place: to take a run up to New York.
  1. bomb run.
  2. any portion of a military flight during which the aircraft flies directly toward the target in order to begin its attack: a strafing run.
  1. the rapid movement, under its own power, of an aircraft on a runway, water, or another surface.
  2. a routine flight from one place to another: the evening run from New York to London.
Journalism. beat(def 40b).
an interval or period during which something, as a machine, operates or continues operating: They kept each press in the plant on a 14-hour run.
the amount of anything produced in such a period: a daily run of 400,000 gallons of paint.
a line or place in knitted work where a series of stitches have slipped out or come undone: a run in a stocking.
onward movement, development, progress, course, etc.: the run of our business from a small store to a large chain.
the direction of something or of its component elements: the run of the grain of wood.
the particular course, order, or tendency of something: the normal run of events.
freedom to move around in, pass through, or use something: to allow one's guests the run of the house.
any rapid or easy course of progress: a run from trainee to supervisor.
a continuous series of performances, as of a play: a long run on Broadway.
an uninterrupted course of some state or condition; a spell: a run of good luck; a run of good weather.
a continuous extent of something, as a vein of ore.
an uninterrupted series or sequence of things, events, etc.: a run of 30 scoreless innings.
a sequence of cards in a given suit: a heart run.
Cribbage. a sequence of three or more cards in consecutive denominations without regard to suits.
any extensive continued demand, sale, or the like: a run on umbrellas on a rainy day.
a series of sudden and urgent demands for payment, as on a bank.
a period of being in demand or favor with the public: Her last book had a briefer run than her first.
a period during which liquid flows: They kept each oil well on an eight-hour run.
the amount that flows during such a period: a run of 500 barrels a day.
a small stream; brook; rivulet.
a flow or rush, as of water: The snow melting on the mountains caused a run of water into the valley.
a kind or class, as of goods: a superior run of blouses.
the typical, ordinary, or average kind: The run of 19th-century novels tends to be of a sociological nature.
an inclined course, as on a slope, designed or used for a specific purpose: a bobsled run; a run for training beginning skiers.
a fairly large enclosure within which domestic animals may move about freely; runway: a chicken run.
Australian. a large sheep ranch or area of grazing land.
the beaten track or usual trail used by deer or other wild animals; runway.
a trough or pipe for water or the like.
the movement of a number of fish upstream or inshore from deep water.
large numbers of fish in motion, especially inshore from deep water or up a river for spawning: a run of salmon.
a number of animals moving together.
Music. a rapid succession of tones; roulade.
Building Trades.
  1. the horizontal distance between the face of a wall and the ridge of a roof.
  2. the distance between the first and last risers of a flight of steps or staircase.
  3. the horizontal distance between successive risers on a flight of steps or a staircase.
Baseball. the score unit made by safely running around all the bases and reaching home plate.
a series of successful shots, strokes, or the like, in a game.
Nautical. the immersed portion of a hull abaft the middle body (opposed to entrance).
the runs, (used with a singular or plural verb) Informal. diarrhea.


melted or liquefied: run butter.
poured in a melted state; run into and cast in a mold: run bronze.

Verb Phrases

run across, to meet or find accidentally: She ran across an old friend at the party. He ran across her name in the phone book.
run after,
  1. to follow; chase: The dog ran after the burglar.
  2. to pursue or court the affections of, especially in an aggressive manner: He ran after her until she agreed to marry him.
  3. to attempt to become friendly with or part of the society of: He runs after the country-club set.
run along, to leave; go on one's way: I have to run along now, but I'll see you tonight. Run along—can't you see I'm busy?
run around,
  1. (often followed by with) to socialize; consort with: She runs around with the strangest people.
  2. to be unfaithful to one's spouse or lover: It was common knowledge that he was running around.
run away,
  1. to flee or escape; leave a place of confinement or control with the intention of never returning: He ran away from home three times.
  2. haul on a line by walking or running steadily.
run away with,
  1. to go away with, especially to elope with: She ran away with a sailor.
  2. to abscond with; steal: to run away with some valuable jewelry.
  3. to surpass others in; be outstanding in: to run away with academic honors.
  4. to overwhelm; get the better of: Sometimes his enthusiasm runs away with him.
run down,
  1. to strike and fell or overturn, especially to drive a vehicle into (someone): to run down an innocent pedestrian.
  2. to pursue until captured; chase: The detective swore that he would run down the criminal.
  3. to peruse; review: His eyes ran down the front row and stopped suddenly.
  4. to cease operation; stop: My watch has run down.
  5. to speak disparagingly of; criticize severely: The students were always running down their math teacher.
  6. to search out; trace; find: to run down information.
  7. tag out (a base runner) between bases.
  8. collide with and sink (another vessel).
  9. sail closely parallel to (a coast).
run in,
  1. to visit casually: If I'm in the neighborhood, I may run in for a few minutes.
  2. to include in a text, as something to be inserted.
  3. arrest; take to jail: They ran him in for burglary.
  4. add (matter) to text without indenting.
  5. to break in (new machinery).
run into,
  1. to crash into; collide with: She was so sleepy that she ran into a lamppost.
  2. to meet accidentally: You never know whom you'll run into at a big party.
  3. to amount to; total: losses that ran into millions of dollars.
  4. to succeed; follow: One year ran into the next, and still there was no change.
  5. to experience; encounter: The project ran into difficulty.
run in with, Nautical. to sail close to (a coast, vessel, etc.).
run off,
  1. to leave quickly; depart.
  2. to create or perform rapidly or easily: to run off a new song.
  3. to determine the winner of (a contest, race, etc.) by a runoff.
  4. to drive away; expel: to run someone off one's property.
  5. to print or otherwise duplicate: Please run off 500 copies.
run off with,
  1. to abscond with (something); steal or borrow; take: He ran off with the money. Who ran off with the pencil sharpener?
  2. to elope: I hear she ran off with the Smith boy.
run on,
  1. to continue without interruption: The account that he gave ran on at some length.
  2. add (matter) to text without indenting.
  3. to add something, as at the end of a text: to run on an adverb to a dictionary entry.
run out,
  1. to terminate; expire: My subscription ran out last month. Time ran out before we could score another touchdown.
  2. to become used up: His money soon ran out.
  3. to drive out; expel: They want to run him out of the country.
run out of, to exhaust a quantity or supply of: She couldn't bake a cake because she had run out of sugar.
run out on, to withdraw one's support from; abandon: No one could accuse him of running out on his friends.
run over,
  1. to hit and knock down, especially with a vehicle: She cried inconsolably when her cat was run over by a car.
  2. to go beyond; exceed: His speech ran over the time limit.
  3. to repeat; review: We'll run over that song again.
  4. to overflow, as a vessel.
run through,
  1. to pierce or stab, as with a sword: to run someone through.
  2. to consume or use up recklessly; squander: to run through a fortune.
  3. to practice, review, or rehearse quickly or informally: to run through a scene.
run up,
  1. to sew rapidly: She ran up some curtains.
  2. to amass; incur: running up huge debts.
  3. to cause to increase; raise: to run up costs unnecessarily.
  4. to build, especially hurriedly: They are tearing down old tenement blocks and running up skyscrapers.
run with, Informal.
  1. to proceed or go ahead with: If the stockholders like the idea, we'll run with it.
  2. to carry out with enthusiasm or speed.

Origin of run

before 900; (v.) Middle English rinnen, rennen, partly < Old Norse rinna, renna, partly continuing Old English rinnan; cognate with German rinnen; form run orig. past participle, later extended to present tense; (noun and adj.) derivative of the v.

Related forms



adjective, foul·er, foul·est.

grossly offensive to the senses; disgustingly loathsome; noisome: a foul smell.
containing or characterized by offensive or noisome matter: foul air; foul stagnant water.
filthy or dirty, as places, receptacles, clothes, etc.
muddy, as a road.
clogged or obstructed with foreign matter: a foul gas jet.
unfavorable or stormy: foul weather.
contrary, violent, or unfavorable, as the wind.
grossly offensive in a moral sense.
abominable, wicked, or vile, as deeds, crime, slander, etc.
scurrilous, profane, or obscene; offensive: foul language.
contrary to the rules or established usages, as of a sport or game; unfair: a foul blow.
Baseball. pertaining to a foul ball or a foul line.
limited in freedom of movement by obstruction, entanglement, etc.: a foul anchor.
abounding in errors or in marks of correction, as a printer's proof, manuscript, or the like.
  1. (of the underwater portion of a hull) encrusted and impeded with barnacles, seaweed, etc.
  2. (of a mooring place) involving inconveniences and dangers, as of colliding with vessels or other objects when swinging with the tide.
  3. (of the bottom of a body of water) affording a poor hold for an anchor (opposed to clean).
North England and Scot.. not fair; ugly or unattractive.
Obsolete. disfigured.


in a foul manner; vilely; unfairly.
Baseball. into foul territory; so as to be foul: It looked like a homer when he hit it, but it went foul.


something that is foul.
a collision or entanglement: a foul between two racing sculls.
a violation of the rules of a sport or game: The referee called it a foul.
Baseball. foul ball.

verb (used with object)

to make foul; defile; soil.
to clog or obstruct, as a chimney or the bore of a gun.
to collide with.
to cause to become entangled or caught, as a rope.
to defile; dishonor; disgrace: His reputation had been fouled by unfounded accusations.
Nautical. (of barnacles, seaweed, etc.) to cling to (a hull) so as to encumber.
Baseball. to hit (a pitched ball) foul (often followed by off or away): He fouled off two curves before being struck out on a fastball.

verb (used without object)

to become foul.
Nautical. to come into collision, as two boats.
to become entangled or clogged: The rope fouled.
Sports. to make a foul play; give a foul blow.
Baseball. to hit a foul ball.

Verb Phrases

foul out,
  1. be put out by hitting a foul ball caught on the fly by a player on the opposing team.
  2. be expelled from a game for having committed more fouls than is allowed.
foul up, Informal. to cause confusion or disorder; bungle; spoil.

Origin of foul

before 900; (adj. and noun) Middle English ful, foul, Old English fūl; cognate with Gothic fuls, Old Norse fūll, Old High German fūl; akin to Latin pūs pus, pūtēre to stink, Greek pýon pus; (adv.) Middle English fule, foule, derivative of the adj.; (v.) Middle English fulen, derivative of the adj.

1. repulsive, repellent. 2. fetid, putrid, stinking. 3. unclean, polluted, sullied, soiled, stained, tainted, impure. 6. rainy, tempestuous. 7. adverse. 9. base, shameful, infamous. 10. smutty, vulgar, coarse, low. 24. sully, stain, dirty, besmirch, taint, pollute. 28. shame.

1. pleasant. 3, 24. clean. 5, 6. clear.

Related forms
Can be confusedfoul fowl

Synonym study

3. See dirty. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for run afoul of


adverb, adjective (postpositive)

(usually foll by of) in or into a state of difficulty, confusion, or conflict (with)
(often foll by of) in or into an entanglement or collision (with) (often in the phrase run afoul of)a yacht with its sails afoul; the boat ran afoul of a steamer



offensive to the senses; revolting
offensive in odour; stinking
charged with or full of dirt or offensive matter; filthy
(of food) putrid; rotten
morally or spiritually offensive; wicked; vile
obscene; vulgarfoul language
not in accordance with accepted standards or established rules; unfairto resort to foul means
(esp of weather) unpleasant or adverse
blocked or obstructed with dirt or foreign mattera foul drain
entangled or impededa foul anchor
(of the bottom of a vessel) covered with barnacles and other growth that slow forward motion
informal unsatisfactory or uninteresting; bada foul book
archaic ugly


  1. a violation of the rules
  2. (as modifier)a foul shot; a foul blow
something foul
an entanglement or collision, esp in sailing or fishing


to make or become dirty or polluted
to become or cause to become entangled or snarled
(tr) to disgrace or dishonour
to become or cause to become clogged or choked
(tr) nautical (of underwater growth) to cling to (the bottom of a vessel) so as to slow its motion
(tr) sport to commit a foul against (an opponent)
(tr) baseball to hit (a ball) in an illegal manner
(intr) sport to infringe the rules
(tr) (of an animal, especially a dog) to defecate ondo not let your dog foul the footpath
to collide with (a boat, etc)


in a foul or unfair manner
fall foul of
  1. to come into conflict with
  2. nauticalto come into collision with
See also foul up

Derived Formsfoully, adverb

Word Origin for foul

Old English fūl; related to Old Norse fūll, Gothic fūls smelling offensively, Latin pūs pus, Greek puol pus


verb runs, running, ran or run

  1. (of a two-legged creature) to move on foot at a rapid pace so that both feet are off the ground together for part of each stride
  2. (of a four-legged creature) to move at a rapid gait; gallop or canter
(tr) to pass over (a distance, route, etc) in runningto run a mile; run a race
(intr) to run in or finish a race as specified, esp in a particular positionJohn is running third
(tr) to perform or accomplish by or as if by runningto run an errand
(intr) to flee; run awaythey took to their heels and ran
(tr) to bring into a specified state or condition by runningto run oneself to a standstill
(tr) to track down or hunt (an animal)to run a fox to earth
(intr) to move about freely and without restraintthe children are running in the garden
(intr usually foll by to) to go or have recourse, as for aid, assistance, etche's always running to his mother when he's in trouble
(tr) to set (animals) loose on (a field or tract of land) so as to graze freely
(intr ; often foll by over, round or up) to make a short trip or brief informal visitI'll run over to your house this afternoon
to move quickly and easily on wheels by rolling, or in any of certain other waysa ball running along the ground; a sledge running over snow
to move or cause to move with a specified result or in a specified mannerto run a ship aground; to run into a tree
(often foll by over) to move or pass or cause to move or pass quicklyto run a vacuum cleaner over the carpet; to run one's eyes over a page
(tr ; foll by into, out of, through, etc) to force, thrust, or driveshe ran a needle into her finger
(tr) to drive or maintain and operate (a vehicle)
(tr) to give a lift to (someone) in a vehicle; transporthe ran her to the railway station
to ply or cause to ply between places on a routethe bus runs from Piccadilly to Golders Green
to operate or be operated; function or cause to functionthe engine is running smoothly
(tr) to perform or carry outto run tests
(tr) to be in charge of; manageto run a company
to extend or continue or cause to extend or continue in a particular direction, for a particular duration or distance, etcthe road runs north; the play ran for two years; the months ran into years
(intr) law
  1. to have legal force or effectthe lease runs for two more years
  2. to accompany; be an integral part of or adjunct toan easement runs with the land
(tr) to be subjected to, be affected by, or incurto run a risk; run a temperature
(intr often foll by to) to be characterized (by); tend or inclineher taste runs to extravagant hats; to run to fat
(intr) to recur persistently or be inherentred hair runs in my family
to cause or allow (liquids) to flow or (of liquids) to flow, esp in a manner specifiedwater ran from the broken pipe; the well has run dry
(intr) to melt and flowthe wax grew hot and began to run
  1. to melt or fuse
  2. (tr)to mould or cast (molten metal)to run lead into ingots
(intr) (of waves, tides, rivers, etc) to rise high, surge, or be at a specified heighta high sea was running that night
(intr) to be diffusedthe colours in my dress ran when I washed it
(intr) (of stitches) to unravel or come undone or (of a garment) to have stitches unravel or come undoneif you pull that thread the whole seam will run
to sew (an article) with continuous stitches
(intr) (of growing vines, creepers, etc) to trail, spread, or climbivy running over a cottage wall
(intr) to spread or circulate quicklya rumour ran through the town
(intr) to be stated or reportedhis story runs as follows
to publish or print or be published or printed in a newspaper, magazine, etcthey ran his story in the next issue
(often foll by for) mainly US and Canadian to be a candidate or present as a candidate for political or other officeAnderson is running for president
(tr) to get past or through; evadeto run a blockade
(tr) to deal in (arms, etc), esp by importing illegallyhe runs guns for the rebels
nautical to sail (a vessel, esp a sailing vessel) or (of such a vessel) to be sailed with the wind coming from astern
(intr) (of fish)
  1. to migrate upstream from the sea, esp in order to spawn
  2. to swim rapidly in any area of water, esp during migration
(tr) cricket to score (a run or number of runs) by hitting the ball and running between the wickets
(tr) billiards snooker to make (a number of successful shots) in sequence
(tr) golf to hit (the ball) so that it rolls along the ground
(tr) bridge to cash (all one's winning cards in a long suit) successively
run a bath to turn on the taps to fill a bath with water for bathing oneself
run close to compete closely with; present a serious challenge tohe got the job, but a younger man ran him close
run for it informal to attempt to escape from arrest, etc, by running
be run off one's feet to be extremely busy


an act, instance, or period of running
a gait, pace, or motion faster than a walkshe went off at a run
a distance covered by running or a period of runninga run of ten miles
an act, instance, or period of travelling in a vehicle, esp for pleasureto go for a run in the car
free and unrestricted accesswe had the run of the house and garden for the whole summer
  1. a period of time during which a machine, computer, etc, operates
  2. the amount of work performed in such a period
a continuous or sustained perioda run of good luck
a continuous sequence of performancesthe play had a good run
cards a sequence of winning cards in one suit, usually more than fivea run of spades
tendency or trendthe run of the market
type, class, or categorythe usual run of graduates
(usually foll by on) a continuous and urgent demanda run on butter; a run on the dollar
a series of unravelled stitches, esp in stockings or tights; ladder
the characteristic pattern or direction of somethingthe run of the grain on a piece of wood
  1. a continuous vein or seam of ore, coal, etc
  2. the direction in which it lies
  1. a period during which water or other liquid flows
  2. the amount of such a flow
a pipe, channel, etc, through which water or other liquid flows
US a small stream
a steeply inclined pathway or course, esp a snow-covered one used for skiing and bobsleigh racingSee also green run, blue run, red run, black run
an enclosure for domestic fowls or other animals, in which they have free movementa chicken run
(esp in Australia and New Zealand) a tract of land for grazing livestock
a track or area frequented by animalsa deer run; a rabbit run
a group of animals of the same species moving together
the migration of fish upstream in order to spawn
  1. the tack of a sailing vessel in which the wind comes from astern
  2. part of the hull of a vessel near the stern where it curves upwards and inwards
  1. a mission in a warplane
  2. short for bombing run
the movement of an aircraft along the ground during takeoff or landing
music a rapid scalelike passage of notes
cricket a score of one, normally achieved by both batsmen running from one end of the wicket to the other after one of them has hit the ballCompare extra (def. 6), boundary (def. 2c)
baseball an instance of a batter touching all four bases safely, thereby scoring
golf the distance that a ball rolls after hitting the ground
a run for one's money informal
  1. a strong challenge or close competition
  2. pleasure derived from an activity
in the long run as the eventual outcome of a sequence of events, actions, etc; ultimately
in the short run as the immediate outcome of a series of events, etc
on the run
  1. escaping from arrest; fugitive
  2. in rapid flight; retreatingthe enemy is on the run
  3. hurrying from place to placeshe's always on the run
the runs slang diarrhoea

Word Origin for run

Old English runnen, past participle of (ge) rinnan; related to Old Frisian, Old Norse rinna, Old Saxon, Gothic, Old High German rinnan

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

Word Origin and History for run afoul of
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with run afoul of

run afoul of

Also, run foul of. Come into conflict with, as in If you keep parking illegally you'll run afoul of the police. This expression originated in the late 1600s, when it was applied to a vessel colliding or becoming entangled with another vessel, but at the same time it was transferred to non-nautical usage. Both senses remain current.


In addition to the idioms beginning with foul

  • foul one's nest
  • foul play
  • foul up

also see:

  • run afoul of


In addition to the idioms beginning with run

  • run across
  • run a fever
  • run afoul of
  • run after
  • run against
  • run along
  • run amok
  • run an errand
  • run a risk
  • run around
  • run around in circles
  • run around like a chicken
  • run around with
  • run a temperature
  • run a tight ship
  • run away
  • run away with
  • run by someone
  • run circles around
  • run counter to
  • run down
  • run dry
  • run for it
  • run for one's money, a
  • run foul
  • run high
  • run in
  • run in place
  • run interference
  • run in the blood
  • run into
  • run into a stone wall
  • run into the ground
  • run its course
  • run like clockwork
  • running on empty
  • running start
  • run off
  • run off at the mouth
  • run off with
  • run of luck
  • run of the mill
  • run on
  • run one ragged
  • run one's eyes over
  • run one's head against the wall
  • run one's own show
  • run out
  • run out of
  • run out on
  • run over
  • run rings around
  • run riot
  • run scared
  • run short
  • run someone in
  • run someone off his or her feet
  • run the gamut
  • run the gauntlet
  • run the show
  • run through
  • run to
  • run to earth
  • run to form
  • run to seed
  • run up
  • run wild
  • run with

also see:

  • beat (run) one's head against the wall
  • cut and run
  • dry run
  • eat and run
  • end run
  • go (run) around in circles
  • great minds (run in the same channel)
  • home run
  • in the long run
  • like clockwork, run
  • make a break (run) for
  • make one's blood run cold
  • (run) off someone's feet
  • on the run
  • still waters run deep
  • tight ship, run a
  • well's run dry

Also see underrunning.

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