Definition of by fair means or foul in English:

by fair means or foul


humorous, literary
  • Using whatever means are necessary.

    ‘they were determined to win, by fair means or foul’
    • ‘Previously there was the report of the former warden who told of targets and quotas which had to be achieved by fair means or foul.’
    • ‘And the higher you've climbed up the greasy pole, by fair means or foul, the further you have to fall.’
    • ‘At the crack of dawn, my over-excitable mother used to wake the household on Christmas morning, and by fair means or foul, persuade us to get up and go downstairs to ‘see if he has been’.’
    • ‘As long as he gets his man - by fair means or foul - Sgt Eldon Perry reckons anything goes in order to maintain law and order.’
    • ‘Their aim is to divide and conquer by fair means or foul.’
    • ‘They are in competition with each other, trying to capture the ‘emerging markets' of developing nations by fair means or foul.’
    • ‘If you don't want to be left behind, you should immediately go out and acquire, by fair means or foul, this piece of work.’
    • ‘The script begins with the internal voice of Standish declaring: ‘I made up my mind there and then that I had to have her whether she was free or not, with or without her consent, by fair means or foul.’’
    • ‘Here, of course, was a classic case of Machiavellian politics: the attempt to bend the will of the party to his view by fair means or foul.’
    • ‘The key question facing the country now is this: will the existing regime allow this process of democratisation to gather momentum, or will it seek to arrest its development and entrench itself in power by fair means or foul?’