Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Offensive to the senses; revolting.
  • adj. Having an offensive odor; smelly.
  • adj. Rotten or putrid: foul meat.
  • adj. Full of dirt or mud; dirty. See Synonyms at dirty.
  • adj. Full of impurities; polluted: foul air.
  • adj. Morally detestable; wicked: foul deeds.
  • adj. Of a vulgar or obscene nature: foul language.
  • adj. Very disagreeable or displeasing; horrid: a foul movie.
  • adj. Bad or unfavorable: in fair weather or foul.
  • adj. Violating accepted standards or rules; dishonorable: used foul means to gain power.
  • adj. Sports Contrary to the rules of a game or sport: a foul boxing punch.
  • adj. Baseball Outside the foul lines: a foul fly ball.
  • adj. Entangled or twisted: a foul anchor.
  • adj. Clogged or obstructed; blocked: a foul ventilator shaft.
  • adj. Archaic Ugly; unattractive.
  • n. Sports An infraction or a violation of the rules of play.
  • n. Baseball A foul ball.
  • n. An entanglement or a collision.
  • n. An instance of clogging or obstructing.
  • adv. In a foul manner.
  • transitive v. To make dirty or foul; pollute. See Synonyms at contaminate.
  • transitive v. To bring into dishonor; besmirch.
  • transitive v. To clog or obstruct.
  • transitive v. To entangle or catch (a rope, for example).
  • transitive v. Nautical To encrust (a ship's hull) with foreign matter, such as barnacles.
  • transitive v. Sports To commit a foul against.
  • transitive v. Baseball To hit (a ball) outside the foul lines.
  • intransitive v. To become foul.
  • intransitive v. Sports To commit a foul.
  • intransitive v. Baseball To hit a ball outside the foul lines: fouled twice and then struck out; fouled out to the catcher.
  • intransitive v. To become entangled or twisted: The anchor line fouled on a rock.
  • intransitive v. To become clogged or obstructed.
  • foul out Sports To be put out of a game for exceeding the number of permissible fouls.
  • foul up To blunder or cause to blunder because of mistakes or poor judgment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Covered with, or containing, extraneous matter which is injurious, noxious, offensive, or obstructive; filthy; dirty; not clean; polluted; nasty; defiled; as, a foul cloth; foul hands; a foul chimney; foul air; a ship's bottom is foul when overgrown with barnacles; a gun becomes foul from repeated firing; a well is foul with polluted water.
  • adj. Scurrilous; obscene or profane; abusive; as, foul words; foul language.
  • adj. Hateful; detestable; shameful; odious; wretched.
  • adj. Loathsome; disgusting; as, a foul disease.
  • adj. Ugly; homely; poor.
  • adj. Not favorable; unpropitious; not fair or advantageous; as, a foul wind; a foul road; cloudy or rainy; stormy; not fair; -- said of the weather, sky, etc.
  • adj. Not conformed to the established rules and customs of a game, conflict, test, etc.; unfair; dishonest; dishonorable; cheating; as, foul play.
  • adj. Having freedom of motion interfered with by collision or entanglement; entangled; -- opposed to clear; as, a rope or cable may get foul while paying it out.
  • adj. Outside of the base lines; in foul territory.
  • v. To make dirty.
  • v. To besmirch.
  • v. To clog or obstruct.
  • v. To entangle.
  • v. To make contact with an opposing player in order to gain advantage.
  • v. To hit outside of the baselines.
  • v. To become clogged.
  • v. To become entangled.
  • v. To commit a foul.
  • v. To hit a ball outside of the baselines.
  • n. A breach of the rules of a game, especially one involving inappropriate contact with an opposing player in order to gain an advantage; as, for example, foot-tripping in soccer, or contact of any kind in basketball.
  • n. A (usually accidental) contact between a bowler and the lane before the bowler has released the ball.
  • n. A foul ball, a ball which has been hit outside of the base lines.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Covered with, or containing, extraneous matter which is injurious, noxious, offensive, or obstructive; filthy; dirty; not clean; polluted; nasty; defiled
  • adj. Scurrilous; obscene or profane; abusive
  • adj. Hateful; detestable; shameful; odious; wretched.
  • adj. Loathsome; disgusting.
  • adj. Ugly; homely; poor.
  • adj. Not favorable; unpropitious; not fair or advantageous; ; cloudy or rainy; stormy; not fair; -- said of the weather, sky, etc.
  • adj. Not conformed to the established rules and customs of a game, conflict, test, etc.; unfair; dishonest; dishonorable; cheating.
  • adj. Having freedom of motion interfered with by collision or entanglement; entangled; -- opposed to clear.
  • n. A bird.
  • n. An entanglement; a collision, as in a boat race.
  • n. See Foul ball, under Foul, a.
  • n. In various games or sports, an act done contrary to the rules; a foul stroke, hit, play, or the like.
  • intransitive v. To become clogged with burnt powder in the process of firing, as a gun.
  • intransitive v. To become entagled, as ropes; to come into collision with something.
  • transitive v. To make filthy; to defile; to daub; to dirty; to soil.
  • transitive v. To incrust (the bore of a gun) with burnt powder in the process of firing.
  • transitive v. To cover (a ship's bottom) with anything that impered its sailing.
  • transitive v. To entangle, so as to impede motion; ; to come into collision with.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Grossly offensive to the senses; of a filthy or noxious character or quality; noisome; disgusting: as, foul matter or exudations; a foul smell; foul breath.
  • 2. Of a harmful or mischievous character; causing trouble or annoyance; obnoxious; obstructive; clogging: as, foul weeds; foul weather; a foul wind.
  • Affected by noisome or defiling matter; in a filthy state or condition; unclean; dirty; turbid; defiled: as, foul clothing; foul den; a foul stream.
  • Affected by harmful matter or things; obstructed by anything fixed or attached; clogged; choked: as, a foul garden (one full of weeds); a foul chimney (one choked with soot); the ship's bottom is foul (clogged with seaweeds or barnacles); the channel has a foul bottom (one cumbered by rocks, wrecks, or the like).
  • Clogged or impeded as by collision or entanglement; in a state of obstructing contact or involvement: with of before the obstructive object: as, the ship is foul of a rock or of another ship; a rope or an anchor is foul from being jammed, entangled, or clogged in any way.
  • Contrary to or violating rule or established usage; done, acting, or acted upon improperly; irregular; disorderly; unfair: as, a foul blow or stroke: a foul player or fighter; a foul attack. See foul play, below.
  • Grossly offensive or loathsome in a moral sense; manifesting, or prompted or actuated by, base or vicious feeling; vile; odious; shameful; revolting: as, foul thoughts or actions; foul language; a foul slander, murder, conspiracy, etc.; a foul slanderer or conspirator.
  • Extremely bad as to effect or result; unfavorable; unlucky; pernicious; distressing: us, a foul accident; a foul prospect or omen.
  • Coarse; common; of little value.
  • Ill-favored; ugly; homely.
  • To attack; make an assault upon. See afoul.
  • n. The act of fouling, colliding, or otherwise impeding due motion or progress; specifically, in a contest of any kind, a violation of the governing rules.
  • n. In base-ball, a hit which makes the ball land outside the lines from home to first or to third base continued indefinitely; a foul ball or a foul hit. See base-ball.
  • n. An ulcer in a cow's foot; a disease that produces ulcers.
  • In a foul manner.
  • To make foul, in any sense; befoul.
  • Nautical, to entangle.
  • To become foul or dirty: as, a gun. fouls from long use.
  • Nautical, to come into collision, as two boats; become entangled or clogged: as, the rope fouled; the block fouled.
  • In base-ball, to strike a foul ball
  • n. An obsolete spelling of fowl.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. disgustingly dirty; filled or smeared with offensive matter
  • adj. (of a manuscript) defaced with changes
  • v. hit a foul ball
  • v. commit a foul; break the rules
  • adj. offensively malodorous
  • adj. especially of a ship's lines etc
  • adj. highly offensive; arousing aversion or disgust
  • n. an act that violates the rules of a sport
  • adj. characterized by obscenity
  • adj. (of a baseball) not hit between the foul lines
  • v. make unclean
  • v. become soiled and dirty
  • v. become or cause to become obstructed
  • adj. violating accepted standards or rules
  • v. spot, stain, or pollute
  • v. make impure

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English fūl; see pū̆- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English fūl ("foul, unclean, impure, vile, corrupt, rotten, guilty"), from Proto-Germanic *fūlaz (“foul, rotten”), from Proto-Indo-European *pū- (“to rot”). Cognate with Dutch vuil ("foul"), German faul ("foul"), Swedish ful ("foul"), Albanian fëlliq ("filth,dirt"), Latin puter ("rotten"). More at putrid. (Wiktionary)
From Old English fūlian. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Foul play was suspected by the detective (or by the referee/umpire).

    December 21, 2007