Main definitions of fool in English

: fool1fool2

fool1

noun

  • 1A person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person:

    ‘I felt a bit of a fool’
    • ‘The biggest moment in life, I guess, is when I worked that out for myself, when I was about 14, which any fool can do.’
    • ‘This black-robed fool can spout things like this in public, and nobody cares.’
    • ‘I will continue to not know such-and-such if I'm treated like an ignorant, unsophisticated fool.’
    • ‘That's a bad solution when taking out one fool will accomplish the same thing.’
    • ‘The only reason big corporations want to open casinos is to part fools from their money.’
    • ‘I wish that fool would just make himself disappear.’
    • ‘Moussaoui may not have a fool for a client, but that decision may prove to be a foolish one.’
    • ‘She was making me look like a fool in front of my family.’
    • ‘Only fools ever think they can turn things around once it's over.’
    • ‘More than a necessary evil, it has become a mandatory fool's errand.’
    • ‘Your email, as any fool can see, verges on illiteracy and incoherence.’
    • ‘We're all on a fool's errand, credit card in hand.’
    • ‘Dealing with drunken fools who don't know when to quit is the downside to any bar job.’
    • ‘He didn't want to look a fool in front of his newest friend.’
    • ‘But when I look at the abundant flow of love and respect in my adult life, I know I'm no fool.’
    • ‘You're just an old-fashioned, close-minded fool who is stuck back in the dark ages!’
    • ‘After a while I got concerned that some fool would shoot it.’
    • ‘Yes, I am a drooling, venal dishonest fool who is just lying because she's mean.’
    • ‘Hey, any fool can open his mouth and espouse a set of ideals, but few ever put them into practice.’
    • ‘No doctor wants to appear a fool in front of his or her colleagues.’
    idiot, ass, halfwit, nincompoop, blockhead, buffoon, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, imbecile, dullard, moron, simpleton, clod
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    1. 1.1archaic A person who is duped or imposed on:
      ‘he is the fool of circumstances’
      • ‘I think Australians would resent this government if they saw they were being duped and treated like fools by them.’
      • ‘She'd been a fool - an absolute fool - to trust him so blindly in the first place.’
      • ‘But no; I was deceiving myself, living in a fool's paradise.’
      • ‘But are these nuggets really the key to marketing magic or just fool's gold?’
      • ‘However transitory the contentment is, one loves to live in a fool's paradise.’
      laughing stock, dupe, butt, gull, pushover, easy mark, tool, cat's paw
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  • 2historical A jester or clown, especially one retained in a royal or noble household.

    • ‘He, too, is an extension of More, both of his comic side in general and of his love of fools and clowns in particular, as reported by Erasmus.’
    • ‘Throughout the plays the resonant names of the great are subjected to comic metamorphoses in the mouths of his clowns and fools.’
    • ‘In Twelfth Night, Feste plays the role of a humble clown employed by Olivia's father playing the licensed fool of their household.’
    • ‘Samis are often stereotyped as the comical helpers of Santa Claus or, even more negatively, as drunken fools or jesters.’
    • ‘So the emperor granted his request and decreed that one day in the year would be set aside for fools and jesters to rule.’
    jester, court jester, clown, buffoon, comic, joker, jokester, zany, merry andrew
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verb

  • 1[with object] Trick or deceive (someone); dupe:

    ‘don't be fooled into paying out any more of your hard-earned cash’
    ‘she tried to fool herself that she had stopped loving him’
    • ‘We find safety in our technology, even though these shields are cheap tricks, designed to fool us into thinking we are emotionally armored.’
    • ‘And no, this isn't just a clever rhetorical trick to fool you down some byzantine path at the end of which is a political surprise.’
    • ‘They must think I'm easily fooled just cuz I'm a kid.’
    • ‘Perhaps fooled by our mangy appearance, he insisted that we order something, his treat.’
    • ‘But most (though not all) modern systems won't be fooled by the trick.’
    • ‘The design is practically flawless, the use of textures and atmosphere so real that you are fooled into a sense of realism.’
    • ‘If they fool you, they are really just fooling themselves and will end up with a room that will not make them happy.’
    • ‘He could be trying to warn you not to be fooled by appearances.’
    • ‘But those who thought they saw statistical relationships were in fact fooled by randomness.’
    • ‘Like most young boys, he saw something irresistible in fooling people with magic tricks.’
    • ‘He even pointed to it, and Mark knew the man was easily fooled.’
    • ‘People do parlor tricks because they fool people, right?’
    • ‘Throw the ball down the middle and let the action on his pitches fool the hitter.’
    • ‘Do you mean to suggest that Chinese people are fooled or fool themselves into living in a false world?’
    • ‘But I think they are fooling themselves as much as they are trying to fool you.’
    • ‘Do you really think I will be fooled by such simple tricks?’
    • ‘She was fooled into using her fame to help promote a slimming drink, which turned out to be tea.’
    • ‘I hope you didn't let last year's fake new millennium fool you.’
    • ‘"You can't fool all the people all the time, " declared Lincoln.’
    • ‘You can't fool all the people, not even most of the time.’
    deceive, trick, play a trick on, hoax, dupe, take in, mislead, delude, hoodwink, bluff, beguile, gull, make a fool of, outwit
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  • 2[no object] Act in a joking, frivolous, or teasing way:

    ‘some lads in the pool were fooling around’
    • ‘Our engineers were fooling about in the studio singing vulgar songs and making rude remarks in front of the microphone.’
    • ‘Destined for academic greatness, Masters says he still had time to fool about at grammar school in Richmond, North Yorkshire.’
    • ‘These may only be laughing and fooling about, but given all the publicity about drugs etc, people are afraid to walk past or talk to them.’
    fiddle, play, play about, play around, toy, trifle, meddle, tamper, interfere, monkey about, monkey around
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    1. 2.1fool aroundNorth American [no object] Engage in casual or extramarital sexual activity.
      • ‘But for most of history, they just did the fooling around without calling it anything.’
      • ‘However, he neglected to tell me that he had a girlfriend for the entire three years we'd been fooling around.’
      • ‘The watchman was probably fooling around again - she had no time for this!’
      • ‘"I'm not fooling around, " Colby replied, his own eyes darkening.’
      • ‘"Stop fooling around Kira, " snapped Rava, coming to a quick halt and eyeing the girl.’
      • ‘We fooled around a bit, you know.’
      • ‘I think he's fooling around with somebody and wants to have the both of us around to play these silly mind games with.’
      • ‘Because he wouldn't fool around with her, and for that he must suffer!’
      philander, womanize, flirt, have an affair, commit adultery
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adjective

informal
  • [attributive] Foolish; silly:

    ‘that damn fool waiter’
    • ‘He said it was due to the fool advice of his father!’
    • ‘Sorry about the fool thing, I just got carried away.’
    • ‘‘Maybe you can talk some sense into that fool woman,’ he said.’
    • ‘I know the manor, but not well enough to know the workings of my fool brother's mind.’
    • ‘It was a foolish, late-night idea powered by a little too much alcohol, and a few soppy fool tendencies.’
    • ‘At some point in any market boom, the greater fool theory comes into effect.’
    • ‘‘I say we abandon this fool cause, Roux, this is too much’ the man pressed.’
    • ‘Soppy fool dedications over and done with, I leave you with the following thought, supplied by the ever-reliable source of quotes that is Hamish McT.’
    • ‘Any fool company can produce an award-winning TV commercial.’
    • ‘And McClain would be known as the fool predecessor to Thrice.’
    • ‘And either there aren't any facts or else I can't keep them in my fool head.’
    • ‘Put a microphone in the face of the fool clergy, and they will say something stupid.’
    • ‘Lord knows nothing else in the fool thing works.’
    • ‘That things had changed I discovered in my usual fool way.’
    • ‘The fool assassin had found out too much, hadn't he?’
    • ‘At this point, the greater fool theory prevails.’
    • ‘If I promise you that, will you go away and stop risking your fool neck to Kevon's temper?’
    • ‘Of course, being the stupid fool macho man that I am, I was trying to do it alone!’
    • ‘Most were about love and betrayal and many others were indecent things Arnel tried not to think about, although it was hard with that fool grin on the old man's face.’
    • ‘What none of our fool leaders have thought about is the fact that you never tell the enemy what you are going to do.’

Phrases

  • be no (or nobody's) fool

    • Be a shrewd or prudent person.

      • ‘But Abelard was an odd man and nobody's fool.’
      • ‘You can paint the cow or bathe it in perfume, but to no avail - the bull is no fool.’
      • ‘But Mammy is nobody's fool, least of all Scarlett's.’
      • ‘The Cardinal, who was nobody's fool, knew fine what kind of a send-off he could expect.’
      • ‘Alex was very clever at school and was nobody's fool.’
      • ‘His considerable personal successes underline he is no fool.’
      • ‘Harry is nobody's fool, and he knows that his time is running out.’
      • ‘George, who was nobody's fool, didn't believe him.’
      • ‘Ortland has always had more hide than a team of elephants, and he is nobody's fool, but he is looking for someone to adopt him.’
      • ‘Lanidae is nobody's fool, he is aware of something that is in his realm, but beyond that I cannot help you.’
  • a fool and his money are soon parted

    • proverb A foolish person spends money carelessly and will soon be penniless.

      • ‘Absent government-imposed distortions, a fool and his money are soon parted.’
      • ‘As the saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted.’
      • ‘After all, a fool and his money are soon parted, and the victims of these scams have brought financial misfortune on themselves, isn't that right?’
      • ‘Laughable they may be, but a fool and his money are soon parted.’
      • ‘They say there's no fool like an old fool, and a fool and his money are soon parted.’
  • fools rush in where angels fear to tread

    • proverb People without good sense or judgement will have no hesitation in tackling a situation that even the wisest would avoid.

      • ‘Perhaps it's foolish, but fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.’
  • make a fool of

    • 1Trick or deceive (someone) so that they look foolish.

      • ‘Nobody makes a fool of Sr. Giovanni and lives to tell the tale!’
      • ‘I dragged her away, demanding to know what was going on between them - I wasn't prepared to be made a fool of like this.’
      • ‘The judges obviously couldn't stand him making fools out of them.’
      • ‘Television can make a fool of us all, but it was difficult to see what the boss was griping about.’
      • ‘‘I do not appreciate being made a fool of in my own home,’ she stated.’
      • ‘Life, however, has a habit of making fools of us.’
      • ‘I was in my GB skiing outfit and I think he just wanted to make a fool of me.’
      • ‘I get 10 times a kick out of making fools out of you good guys.’
      • ‘Add in his gift for mimicry and he can make a fool of anyone, from fox hunters to Kilroy, Joss Stone to the Botox brigade.’
      • ‘He is made a fool of and all's well that ends well.’
      1. 1.1Behave in an incompetent or inappropriate way that makes one appear foolish.
        • ‘Liam smiled and appeared to be refusing to look at me while I made a fool of myself.’
        • ‘Other pitfalls of course include making a fool of yourself in front of colleagues at the office party.’
        • ‘‘Most people are so scared of making a fool of themselves that they forget to listen,’ added Hanscombe.’
        • ‘Meanwhile, Nicholls was making a fool of himself whenever his band appeared; seeming childish and conceited in interviews and crazed on stage.’
        • ‘I think women are a lot more ballsy, less worried about making a fool of themselves.’
        • ‘Just as embarrassing are the ones who try to be like ‘one of the lads’, joining in childhood games and generally making a fool of themselves.’
        • ‘Let's assume you've reached a level of expertise where you can handle intermediate blue runs and gentler red-run moguls without making a fool of yourself.’
        • ‘Durkee had never appeared on camera before and feared making a fool of herself.’
        • ‘The important thing is not to mind making a fool of yourself.’
        • ‘Some officials, if not the government, are making a fool of themselves by targeting the NGOs and maligning them.’
  • more fool ——

    • Used to convey that a specified person is behaving unwisely:

      ‘if suckers will actually pay to do the work, more fool them’
      • ‘If they choose to go with just one quote, and it's a big one, well more fool them!’
      • ‘‘If you believe her,’ I snapped before he even had the chance to think about uttering a word. ‘Then more fool you.’’
      • ‘I've been out braving the sale-hungered mobs in Oxford Circus today - yes, more fool me, I know.’
      • ‘Heh, more fool us - we had no idea as to the welcome awaiting us.’
      • ‘That's the nature of government: 90 percent of its agencies just aren't very good and, if you put your life in their hands, more fool you.’
      • ‘I think that's beyond the pale - although, I suppose, it's more fool them for using it.’
      • ‘If that's what they wanna pay him, then more fool them!’
      • ‘People can write me off, criticise me - more fool them!’
      • ‘If you believe the rumour, more fool you for believing it.’
      • ‘If people are silly enough not to shop around on the net for a good price then more fool them!’
  • play (or act) the fool

    • Behave in a playful or silly way.

      • ‘To my relief, both seem willing to offer more than just two-word replies today, with neither playing the fool.’
      • ‘I, rather than being tricked and playing the fool, prefer being slapped in the face.’
      • ‘In order to raise funds for his dream school, he went about begging, singing, playing the fool and enduring humiliation for decades.’
      • ‘Now, when at work, he was able to play the fool - an idiot with a Rolleiflex.’
      • ‘But the film belongs to Clooney, who plays the fool and the charmer with polished, devil-may-care ease.’
      • ‘I played the fool through much of university and I always had fun.’
      • ‘Have things changed this much, or am I just once again playing the fool by believing him?’
      • ‘They were acting the fool and I just caught them in the act of acting the fool.’
      • ‘Senior prisons officers said Friday that the inmates were not on a hunger strike but were ‘simply playing the fool.’’
      • ‘On stage four young men are rapping, dancing, dissing each other and playing the fool.’
      clown about, clown around, act the clown, act the fool, fool about, fool around, mess about, mess around, monkey about, monkey around, footle about, footle around, joke, play pranks, indulge in horseplay
      horse about, horse around, screw around, puddle about, puddle around, act the goat, lark about, lark around
      muck about, muck around, fanny about, fanny around
      piss about, piss around, arse about, arse around
      play the giddy goat
      View synonyms
  • there's no fool like an old fool

    • proverb The foolish behaviour of an older person seems especially foolish as they are expected to think and act more sensibly than a younger one.

      • ‘There's no fool like an old fool, these old goats don't know how foolish they look.’
      • ‘As for Khan, there's no fool like an old fool.’
      • ‘Just goes to show, there's no fool like an old fool, especially an old fool that trusts the piskies.’
  • you could have fooled me!

    • Used to express cynicism or doubt about an assertion:

      ‘‘Fun, was it? Well, you could have fooled me!’’
      • ‘Well, you could have fooled me -- the humor in this book demonstrates that you are indeed a funny person.’
      • ‘Well, with that act you pulled off, you could have fooled me!’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French fol fool, foolish, from Latin follis bellows, windbag, by extension empty-headed person.

Pronunciation:

fool

/fuːl/

Main definitions of fool in English

: fool1fool2

fool2

noun

British
  • [mass noun], [usually with modifier] A cold dessert made of pureed fruit mixed or served with cream or custard:

    ‘raspberry fool with cream’
    • ‘For dessert, we ordered the rhubarb and strawberry fool, with stem ginger ice cream.’
    • ‘The elderflower has a musky scent that really lifts the gooseberries - try adding it to gooseberry fool too.’
    • ‘However, the milk content of this fool makes it rich in calcium, a vital bone-building nutrient, which means that it's quite healthy if eaten in moderation.’
    • ‘You can also use rosemary flowers, lightly folded into fools and creams to be served with a warm cake or fruit tart.’
    • ‘I think I love the names of trifles, possets, fools and syllabubs more than I enjoy eating them.’
    • ‘Use it trickled over ice-cream sundaes, on pancakes, or with the banana fool above.’
    • ‘Fruit fools, jellies, and ice creams were popular desserts.’
    • ‘A chickpea purée called fool is eaten at breakfast.’
    • ‘Celebrate your first spotting with a crumble, then progress to the obligatory and unsurpassable gooseberry fool.’

Origin

Late 16th century: perhaps from fool.

Pronunciation:

fool

/fuːl/