What does foul mean?

Definitions for foul

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word foul.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. fouladjective

    an act that violates the rules of a sport

  2. disgusting, disgustful, distasteful, foul, loathly, loathsome, repellent, repellant, repelling, revolting, skanky, wicked, yuckyadjective

    highly offensive; arousing aversion or disgust

    "a disgusting smell"; "distasteful language"; "a loathsome disease"; "the idea of eating meat is repellent to me"; "revolting food"; "a wicked stench"

  3. fetid, foetid, foul, foul-smelling, funky, noisome, smelly, stinking, ill-scentedadjective

    offensively malodorous

    "a foul odor"; "the kitchen smelled really funky"

  4. cheating(a), dirty, foul, unsporting, unsportsmanlikeadjective

    violating accepted standards or rules

    "a dirty fighter"; "used foul means to gain power"; "a nasty unsporting serve"; "fined for unsportsmanlike behavior"

  5. fouladjective

    (of a baseball) not hit between the foul lines

  6. dirty, foul, marked-upadjective

    (of a manuscript) defaced with changes

    "foul (or dirty) copy"

  7. cruddy, filthy, foul, nasty, smuttyadjective

    characterized by obscenity

    "had a filthy mouth"; "foul language"; "smutty jokes"

  8. filthy, foul, nastyadjective

    disgustingly dirty; filled or smeared with offensive matter

    "as filthy as a pigsty"; "a foul pond"; "a nasty pigsty of a room"

  9. afoul(ip), foul, fouledverb

    especially of a ship's lines etc

    "with its sails afoul"; "a foul anchor"

  10. foulverb

    hit a foul ball

  11. pollute, foul, contaminateverb

    make impure

    "The industrial wastes polluted the lake"

  12. clog, choke off, clog up, back up, congest, choke, foulverb

    become or cause to become obstructed

    "The leaves clog our drains in the Fall"; "The water pipe is backed up"

  13. foulverb

    commit a foul; break the rules

  14. foul, befoul, defile, maculateverb

    spot, stain, or pollute

    "The townspeople defiled the river by emptying raw sewage into it"

  15. foulverb

    make unclean

    "foul the water"

  16. foulverb

    become soiled and dirty

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. FOULadjective

    Etymology: fuls, Gothick; ful, Saxon.

    My face is foul with weeping. Job xvi. 16.

    It’s monstrous labour when I wash my brain,
    And it grows fouler. William Shakespeare, Ant. and Cleopatra.

    He that can travel in deep and foul ways, ought not to say that he cannot walk in fair. John Tillotson, Sermons.

    The stream is foul with stains
    Of rushing torrents and descending rains. Addison.

    With foul mouth,
    And in the witness of his proper ear,
    To call him villain. William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure.

    Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
    Upon the foul disease. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    Intemperance and sensuality debase mens minds, clog their spirits, and make them gross, foul, listless and unactive. John Tillotson.

    Jesus rebuked the foul spirit. Mar. ix. 25.

    He hates foul leasings in vile flattery,
    Two filthy blots in noble gentery. Hubberd’s Tale.

    This is the grossest and most irrational supposition, as well as the foulest atheism, that can be imagined. Matthew Hale.

    Satire has always shone among the rest,
    And is the boldest way, if not the best,
    To tell men truly of their foulest faults,
    To laugh at their vain deeds, and vainer thoughts. Dryden.

    By foul play were we heav’d thence,
    But blessedly help’d hither. William Shakespeare, Tempest.

    Th’ other half did woman’s shape retain,
    Most loathsom, filthy, foul, and full of vile disdain. F. Qu.

    Hast thou forgot
    The foul witch Sycorax, who with age and envy
    Was grown into a hoop? William Shakespeare, Tempest.

    Foul sights do rather displease, in that they excite the memory of foul things than in the immediate objects; and therefore, in pictures, those foul sights do not much offend. Francis Bacon.

    Too well I see and rue the dire event,
    That with sad overthrow and foul defeat
    Hath lost us heav’n. John Milton, Paradise Lost, b. i.

    Who first seduc’d them to that foul revolt? John Milton, P. Lost.

    Reason half extinct,
    Or impotent, or else approving, sees
    The foul disorder. James Thomson, Spring.

    You will have no notion of delicacies, if you table with them: they are all for rank and foul feeding, and spoil the best provisions in cooking. Henry Felton, on the Classicks.

    You perceive the body of our kingdom,
    How foul it is; what rank diseases grow,
    And with what danger near the heart of it. William Shakespeare, H. IV.

    Who’s there besides foul weather?
    One minded like the weather, most inquietly. William Shakespeare, K. Lear.

    Be fair or foul, or rain or shine,
    The joys I have profess’d, in spite of fate are mine. Dryd.

    So in this throng bright Sacharissa far’d,
    Oppress’d by those who strove to be her guard:
    As ships, though never so obsequious, fall
    Foul in a tempest on their admiral. Edmund Waller.

    In his sallies their men might fall foul of each other. Edward Hyde.

    The great art of the devil, and the principal deceit of the heart, is to keep fair with God himself, while men fall foul upon his laws. Robert South, Sermons.

  2. To Foulverb

    To daub; to bemire; to make filthy; to dirty.

    Etymology: fulan, Saxon.

    Sweep and cleanse your walks from autumnal leaves, lest the worms draw them into their holes, and foul your gardens. John Evelyn, Kalendar.

    While Traulus all his ordure scatters,
    To foul the man he chiefly flatters. Jonathan Swift.

    She fouls a smock more in one hour than the kitchen-maid doth in a week. Jonathan Swift, Directions to Servants.


  1. foul

    Foul refers to a wrongful, disgusting, or offensive action, behavior, condition or substance, typically violating established rules or norms. Depending on its context, it can refer to an unjust action in sports, unpleasant taste, smell or language, or a state of pollution or contamination.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Foulnoun

    a bird

  2. Foul

    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

  3. Foul

    scurrilous; obscene or profane; abusive; as, foul words; foul language

  4. Foul

    hateful; detestable; shameful; odious; wretched

  5. Foul

    loathsome; disgusting; as, a foul disease

  6. Foul

    ugly; homely; poor

  7. Foul

    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

  8. Foul

    not conformed to the established rules and customs of a game, conflict, test, etc.; unfair; dishonest; dishonorable; cheating; as, foul play

  9. Foul

    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

  10. Foulverb

    to make filthy; to defile; to daub; to dirty; to soil; as, to foul the face or hands with mire

  11. Foulverb

    to incrust (the bore of a gun) with burnt powder in the process of firing

  12. Foulverb

    to cover (a ship's bottom) with anything that impered its sailing; as, a bottom fouled with barnacles

  13. Foulverb

    to entangle, so as to impede motion; as, to foul a rope or cable in paying it out; to come into collision with; as, one boat fouled the other in a race

  14. Foulverb

    to become clogged with burnt powder in the process of firing, as a gun

  15. Foulverb

    to become entagled, as ropes; to come into collision with something; as, the two boats fouled

  16. Foulnoun

    an entanglement; a collision, as in a boat race

  17. Foulnoun

    see Foul ball, under Foul, a

  18. Etymology: [See Fowl.]


  1. Foul

    A foul in association football is an unfair act by a player which is deemed by the referee to contravene Law 12 of the Laws of the Game. For an act to be a foul it must: ⁕be a specific offence listed in Law 12 of the Laws of the Game; ⁕be committed by a player; ⁕occur on the field of play; ⁕be committed against an opponent, when applicable; ⁕occur while the ball is in play. As can be seen from the above not all infractions of the Laws are fouls, rather they may constitute – and be punished as – technical infractions and/or misconduct. 'Misconduct,' in association football, is any conduct by a player that is deemed by the referee to warrant a disciplinary sanction in accordance with Law 12 of the Laws of the Game. Misconduct may occur at any time, including when the ball is out of play, during half-time and before and after the game, and both players and substitutes may be sanctioned for misconduct. This is unlike a foul, which is committed by a player, on the field of play, and only against an opponent when the ball is in play.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Foul

    fowl, adj. filthy: loathsome: obscene: impure: stormy: unfair: running against: distressing, pernicious: choked up, entangled: (Shak.) homely, ugly.—v.t. to make foul: to soil: to effect a collision.—v.i. to come into collision:—pr.p. foul′ing; pa.p. fouled.—n. act of fouling: any breach of the rules in games or contests.—adj. Foul′-faced (Shak.), having a hatefully ugly face.—n. Foul′-fish, fish during the spawning season.—adv. Foul′ly.—adjs. Foul′-mouthed, Foul′-spok′en, addicted to the use of foul or profane language.—ns. Foul-mouthed′ness; Foul′ness; Foul′-play, unfair action in any game or contest, dishonest dealing generally.—Claim a foul, to assert that the recognised rules have been broken, and that a victory is therefore invalid; Fall foul of, to come against: to assault; Make foul water, used of a ship, to come into such shallow water that the keel raises the mud. [A.S. fúl; Ger. faul, Goth. fûls.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. foul

    Generally used in opposition to clear, and implies entangled, embarrassed, or contrary to: as "a ship ran foul of us," that is, entangled herself among our rigging. Also, to contaminate in any way.

Suggested Resources

  1. FOUL

    What does FOUL stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the FOUL acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

How to pronounce foul?

How to say foul in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of foul in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of foul in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of foul in a Sentence

  1. Luka Garza:

    I’ve never been one to make excuses, i’ve got to be better for my team and not put myself in position to be in foul trouble.

  2. Tim Matheson:

    The studio fought him long and hard on that and he prevailed, they had a lunch with Chevy, and Landis kept saying all the wrong things [on purpose]. He said, ‘Oh Chevy, it will be just like ‘SNL.’ You’ll be one of 10 people in the movie and it’s an ensemble. Now, if you do [‘Foul Play’] with Goldie [Hawn], it’s just you and her and it won’t be as fun.’ Chevy walked out of there going, ‘I’m not doing that movie.'.

  3. Joe Martin:

    The most overlooked advantage to owning a computer is that if they foul up there's no law against wacking them around a little.

  4. Heather Burton:

    In my professional opinion after viewing the scene, no foul play was involved. Official cause of death and manner of death are pending autopsy results.

  5. Michele Berdy:

    It's also this sort of 'man's man,' slipping into foul language, and always putting somebody down, making fun of somebody, like the Turks licking the Americans. It's insulting and it's putting down the Turks and the Americans in the process.

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Translations for foul

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • مُخالفةArabic
  • замърсен, нечестен, фаулирам, неприличен, противен, задръствам, цапам, оплитам се, отвратителен, оплетен, неблагоприятен, задръствам се, мръсен, непристоен, оплитам, опетнявам, фаулBulgarian
  • faltaCatalan, Valencian
  • faulCzech
  • verschmutzen, vulgär, garstig, [[verwirrt]] [[werden]], stinkend, verstopften, foulen, verwirren, foul, schmutzig, unflätig, beschmutzen, faul, widerlich, verstopfen, unrein, ausdrückend, [[sich]] [[verwickeln]], unanständig, verwickeln, RegelverstoßGerman
  • φάουλGreek
  • obstruer, ensuciar, grosero, [[cometer]] [[una]] [[falta]], taparse, perro, enredarse, obsceno, enredar, tapar, inmundo, indecente, repugnante, faltaSpanish
  • vastikEstonian
  • ناپاکPersian
  • häpeällinen, tahrata, juuttunut, saastainen, ruma, iljettävä, surkea, sotkeutua, liata, törkyinen, häijy, sääntöjen vastainen, väärä, epäpuhdas, [[lyödä]] [[väärä]], [[rikkoa]] [[sääntö, likainen, tukkeutua, inhottava, [[lyödä]] [[ulos]], tukkia, vastenmielinen, siivoton, törkeä, kurja, rikkominen, rikeFinnish
  • souillé, fauteFrench
  • cacaScottish Gaelic
  • falt, szabálytalanságHungarian
  • ripugnante, nauseante, disgustosoItalian
  • hapaMāori
  • verstoppen, besmeurenDutch
  • faulPolish
  • detestável, faltaPortuguese
  • фолить, нечестный, пошлый, похабный, отвратительный, гадкий, грязный, засоряться, засорять, скверный, непристойный, непотребный, пачкать, запутывать, безобразный, паскудный, неприличный, пятнать, зафаливать, запутываться, вульгарный, фолRussian
  • befläcka, foula, smutsa ner, regelöverträdelse, regelbrott, foulSwedish
  • faulTurkish
  • фолUkrainian
  • HôiVietnamese

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    a decorative musical accompaniment (often improvised) added above a basic melody
    A lucubrate
    B monish
    C descant
    D suffuse

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