Main definitions of fool in English

: fool1fool2



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

    ‘I felt a bit of a fool’
    • ‘You're just an old-fashioned, close-minded fool who is stuck back in the dark ages!’
    • ‘Moussaoui may not have a fool for a client, but that decision may prove to be a foolish one.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Dealing with drunken fools who don't know when to quit is the downside to any bar job.’
    • ‘That's a bad solution when taking out one fool will accomplish the same thing.’
    • ‘This black-robed fool can spout things like this in public, and nobody cares.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He didn't want to look a fool in front of his newest friend.’
    • ‘Hey, any fool can open his mouth and espouse a set of ideals, but few ever put them into practice.’
    • ‘The only reason big corporations want to open casinos is to part fools from their money.’
    • ‘She was making me look like a fool in front of my family.’
    • ‘I will continue to not know such-and-such if I'm treated like an ignorant, unsophisticated fool.’
    • ‘No doctor wants to appear a fool in front of his or her colleagues.’
    • ‘We're all on a fool's errand, credit card in hand.’
    • ‘I wish that fool would just make himself disappear.’
    • ‘Only fools ever think they can turn things around once it's over.’
    • ‘Your email, as any fool can see, verges on illiteracy and incoherence.’
    • ‘More than a necessary evil, it has become a mandatory fool's errand.’
    • ‘But when I look at the abundant flow of love and respect in my adult life, I know I'm no fool.’
    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.’
      • ‘However transitory the contentment is, one loves to live in a fool's paradise.’
      • ‘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?’
      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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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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  • 1with 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’
    • ‘"You can't fool all the people all the time, " declared Lincoln.’
    • ‘I hope you didn't let last year's fake new millennium fool you.’
    • ‘If they fool you, they are really just fooling themselves and will end up with a room that will not make them happy.’
    • ‘But I think they are fooling themselves as much as they are trying to fool you.’
    • ‘The design is practically flawless, the use of textures and atmosphere so real that you are fooled into a sense of realism.’
    • ‘Perhaps fooled by our mangy appearance, he insisted that we order something, his treat.’
    • ‘He even pointed to it, and Mark knew the man was easily fooled.’
    • ‘You can't fool all the people, not even most of the time.’
    • ‘But most (though not all) modern systems won't be fooled by the trick.’
    • ‘They must think I'm easily fooled just cuz I'm a kid.’
    • ‘Like most young boys, he saw something irresistible in fooling people with magic tricks.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But those who thought they saw statistical relationships were in fact fooled by randomness.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘She was fooled into using her fame to help promote a slimming drink, which turned out to be tea.’
    • ‘He could be trying to warn you not to be fooled by appearances.’
    • ‘Do you really think I will be fooled by such simple tricks?’
    • ‘We find safety in our technology, even though these shields are cheap tricks, designed to fool us into thinking we are emotionally armored.’
    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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  • 2no 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.
      • ‘"Stop fooling around Kira, " snapped Rava, coming to a quick halt and eyeing the girl.’
      • ‘However, he neglected to tell me that he had a girlfriend for the entire three years we'd been fooling around.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The watchman was probably fooling around again - she had no time for this!’
      • ‘Because he wouldn't fool around with her, and for that he must suffer!’
      • ‘But for most of history, they just did the fooling around without calling it anything.’
      • ‘"I'm not fooling around, " Colby replied, his own eyes darkening.’
      philander, womanize, flirt, have an affair, commit adultery
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  • attributive Foolish; silly.

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


  • be no (or nobody's) fool

    • Be a shrewd or prudent person.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘George, who was nobody's fool, didn't believe him.’
      • ‘His considerable personal successes underline he is no fool.’
      • ‘Lanidae is nobody's fool, he is aware of something that is in his realm, but beyond that I cannot help you.’
      • ‘Harry is nobody's fool, and he knows that his time is running out.’
      • ‘Alex was very clever at school and was nobody's fool.’
      • ‘But Abelard was an odd man and nobody's fool.’
  • a fool and his money are soon parted

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Absent government-imposed distortions, a fool and his money are soon parted.’
      • ‘As the saying goes, 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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Life, however, has a habit of making fools of us.’
      • ‘He is made a fool of and all's well that ends well.’
      • ‘‘I do not appreciate being made a fool of in my own home,’ she stated.’
      • ‘I get 10 times a kick out of making fools out of you good guys.’
      • ‘Nobody makes a fool of Sr. Giovanni and lives to tell the tale!’
      • ‘The judges obviously couldn't stand him making fools out of them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was in my GB skiing outfit and I think he just wanted to make a fool of me.’
      • ‘Television can make a fool of us all, but it was difficult to see what the boss was griping about.’
      1. 1.1Behave in an incompetent or inappropriate way that makes one appear foolish.
        • ‘I think women are a lot more ballsy, less worried about 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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Liam smiled and appeared to be refusing to look at me while I made a fool of myself.’
        • ‘Meanwhile, Nicholls was making a fool of himself whenever his band appeared; seeming childish and conceited in interviews and crazed on stage.’
        • ‘Other pitfalls of course include making a fool of yourself in front of colleagues at the office party.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘‘Most people are so scared of making a fool of themselves that they forget to listen,’ added Hanscombe.’
        • ‘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 people are silly enough not to shop around on the net for a good price then more fool them!’
      • ‘If you believe the rumour, more fool you for believing it.’
      • ‘Heh, more fool us - we had no idea as to the welcome awaiting us.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘People can write me off, criticise me - more fool them!’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
  • play (or act) the fool

    • Behave in a playful or silly way.

      • ‘On stage four young men are rapping, dancing, dissing each other and playing the fool.’
      • ‘Now, when at work, he was able to play the fool - an idiot with a Rolleiflex.’
      • ‘In order to raise funds for his dream school, he went about begging, singing, playing the fool and enduring humiliation for decades.’
      • ‘I played the fool through much of university and I always had fun.’
      • ‘But the film belongs to Clooney, who plays the fool and the charmer with polished, devil-may-care ease.’
      • ‘Senior prisons officers said Friday that the inmates were not on a hunger strike but were ‘simply playing the fool.’’
      • ‘I, rather than being tricked and playing the fool, prefer being slapped in the face.’
      • ‘To my relief, both seem willing to offer more than just two-word replies today, with neither playing the fool.’
      • ‘They were acting the fool and I just caught them in the act of acting the fool.’
      • ‘Have things changed this much, or am I just once again playing the fool by believing him?’
      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
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  • 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.

      • ‘As for Khan, there's no fool like an old fool.’
      • ‘There's no fool like an old fool, these old goats don't know how foolish they look.’
      • ‘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, with that act you pulled off, you could have fooled me!’
      • ‘Well, you could have fooled me -- the humor in this book demonstrates that you are indeed a funny person.’


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




Main definitions of fool in English

: fool1fool2



  • mass noun, usually with modifier A cold dessert made of pureed fruit mixed or served with cream or custard.

    ‘raspberry fool with 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.’
    • ‘Fruit fools, jellies, and ice creams were popular desserts.’
    • ‘Celebrate your first spotting with a crumble, then progress to the obligatory and unsurpassable gooseberry fool.’
    • ‘You can also use rosemary flowers, lightly folded into fools and creams to be served with a warm cake or fruit tart.’
    • ‘For dessert, we ordered the rhubarb and strawberry fool, with stem ginger ice cream.’
    • ‘Use it trickled over ice-cream sundaes, on pancakes, or with the banana fool above.’
    • ‘A chickpea purée called fool is eaten at breakfast.’
    • ‘I think I love the names of trifles, possets, fools and syllabubs more than I enjoy eating them.’


Late 16th century: perhaps from fool.