Definition of folly in English:



  • 1Lack of good sense; foolishness.

    ‘an act of sheer folly’
    • ‘What sheer folly it must be to fall in love if it makes one talk in such a silly manner.’
    • ‘By an act of unthinking folly I used them as an example yesterday.’
    • ‘The residents of Tortuga put up with a lot, but it was sheer folly to fly the colors in a town.’
    • ‘That act of folly summed up 30 minutes of dire rugby, but also seemed to spark Scotland into some semblance of life.’
    • ‘‘It would be folly to abandon a national asset unless we were sure it had outlived its usefulness,’ he says passionately.’
    • ‘How much publicity should that act of folly generate, in comparison to the meaningless Plame farce?’
    • ‘So then, do you think, Bill, the newspapers are just committing an exercise in folly, or is it good journalism?’
    • ‘A luxury player, great to add to a winning team, his purchase by City was the ultimate act of folly.’
    • ‘Why, it is sheer folly to attempt to predict who will prevail with so much uncertainty pervading the future.’
    • ‘There is no future in trying to find a middle road between folly and common sense.’
    • ‘This is sheer folly and reveals a lack of understanding of the power of saving regularly from an early age.’
    • ‘The Soviet colonisation of the Arctic was an act of extreme folly and cruelty.’
    • ‘But, having said that, some of the ways that people have been dispersed into the community have been sheer folly.’
    • ‘If anything, he has unwittingly sounded the sirens to launch a war without end by this single act of presidential folly.’
    • ‘With a minute left, and the score 2-2, Phil Neville committed an act of folly in the penalty box and Ganea scored from the spot.’
    • ‘The desire for rationalising and centralising local services is sheer folly and will lead to more traffic, more travelling and deprived communities.’
    • ‘Being booked for rejoicing in a goal is sheer folly in itself.’
    • ‘It seems to me that for a country of any size, nineteen political parties is sheer folly.’
    • ‘But to attack him now, at a time when the Middle East is already on the brink of full-scale war, would be an act of terrible folly.’
    • ‘But to commit America to a broader role while remaining blindly ignorant of the ultimate cost of doing so is sheer folly.’
    1. 1.1A foolish act, idea, or practice.
      ‘the follies of youth’
      • ‘Right now, there was nothing to do but mope over her past follies and errors.’
      • ‘To the average young whippersnapper of today, this would be most risible, but I care not for the follies of youth.’
      • ‘He is a pragmatist to the last breath and would never have indulged a personal folly, like Bacon did, in appointing a governor.’
      • ‘While the teens spend a lost weekend in the countryside, the director makes lazy points about the follies of youth.’
      • ‘It is a suicidal folly to condone, much less encourage, any anarchic agenda, overlooking its disruptiveness in the national context.’
      • ‘But one man's notion of a masterwork may be another's idea of a folly.’
      • ‘It is a peculiar folly, under these circumstances, for the rich to seek greater riches by selling weapons to the poor.’
      • ‘It cries out to be exploited as a grand folly, an emblem of muddle, hype and plain foolishness with enormous entertainment potential.’
      • ‘They've committed one great folly in the mess-up with the dig tree.’
      • ‘True enough, Deacon, we're not about to start throwing stones at the political follies of one's youth.’
      • ‘We are full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other for our follies.’
      • ‘Pensioners are being rack-rated to pay for the follies of this foolish Government.’
      • ‘It is almost a folly to expect complete truth and sincerity among political parties and that too in today's dirty politics.’
      • ‘Disregard of the movements and sentiments developing around them was a primary folly.’
      • ‘It is one of the follies of youth, indeed of all ages.’
      • ‘It's a good idea to show the follies of socialism in pictorial form and he does have some good pictures.’
      • ‘This is an enormous folly on behalf of the government.’
      • ‘Political blunders and economic follies are depressing the Japanese economy.’
      • ‘I will conspicuously recycle the cans and glasses and papers, even though I suspect it's all a folly.’
      • ‘In truth, it is a folly of gigantic proportions.’
      foolishness, foolhardiness, stupidity, idiocy, imbecility, silliness, inanity, lunacy, madness, rashness, recklessness, imprudence, injudiciousness, lack of caution, lack of foresight, lack of sense, irrationality, illogicality, irresponsibility, thoughtlessness, indiscretion
      View synonyms
  • 2A costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park.

    • ‘Why is this council contemplating spending £2 million of our tax on an unnecessary folly?’
    • ‘Wildly elaborate architectural follies, ruins and waterworks are featured in two 1982 drawings, both titled Haunted Village.’
    • ‘It's a fascinating folly in the woods, up a hill, offering stunning views over London, out into Kent, and across to Essex and beyond.’
    • ‘The Strickland's other main legacy is much easier to spot: the fine folly tower, Carnaby Temple, sited atop of a nearby hill.’
    • ‘Apart from formal diversity, the symbolic and cultural role of the folly is also important.’
    • ‘This treatment of the hydrotherapy unit transcends function: the building is a kind of garden folly in a landscape of cars.’
    • ‘At present, architectural production often seems to be of two quite dissimilar kinds: sheds and follies.’
    • ‘The monument to the seventh Earl continued the tradition of follies and garden buildings begun in the 18th century.’
    • ‘The most dominant garden feature is a folly with an interesting provenance.’
    • ‘Ruins themselves are reminiscent of purpose-built folly gardens of the eighteenth century.’
    • ‘Known as the Temple de l' Amour, the folly is now the client's summer residence.’
    • ‘Built in 1843 in the style of a Greek temple, the folly is a Grade II Listed Building.’
    • ‘Now we have a swimming pool, a marvellous garden and a splendid folly.’
    • ‘To others it is simply an artistic folly on a bleak Lanarkshire hillside.’
    • ‘A building can be symbolic of power, but it can also be a folly.’
    • ‘It was also from Ruisdael that 18 th-century Britain inherited its love of gothic ruins and haunted follies.’
    • ‘Later it made me think of follies built in the gardens of the English houses of the rich and often featuring in Agatha Christie plays.’
    • ‘There was also a folly and a burial ground, so all in all more sinister than friendly, in my opinion.’
    • ‘Several folly towers and temples once formed part of the landscape at Emo.’
    • ‘It is home to a folly tower, called the Summer House, built to commemorate the Reform Bill of 1832.’
  • 3A theatrical revue, typically with glamorous female performers.

    [in names] [in combination] ‘the Ziegfeld Follies’
    • ‘Her sister Doris had been employed to rehearse a group of dancing girls for a road show of the Follies for producer Ned Wayburn.’
    • ‘I recalled seeing him in a private screening of ‘Pep Follies of 1930,’ strumming his vulgar ukulele and screeching ‘Good Night Sweetheart.’’
    • ‘‘I'm one of the lucky ones,’ she says of performing in the Follies.’
    • ‘Emma Clifford comes direct to the national tour of Chicago from playing ‘Young Salle’ in the recent London production of Follies.’
    • ‘Opening night for the Gaslight Follies is Saturday, May 18.’
    • ‘He was 15 when he saw his first Broadway production, Follies, and 32 years later he can still recall every moment ‘scene by scene.’’
    • ‘Minto adult skaters have performed in every edition of the Follies that has been presented.’
    • ‘The Palace Grand Prize is the title of this year's instalment of the Gaslight Follies at the Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City.’
    • ‘Instead of going back to the chorus, she took to the road, playing the lead roles in classic musicals like Can-Can, Gypsy, and Follies.’
    • ‘Along with Follies, the festival screens Wiseman's Law and Order and Domestic Violence.’
    • ‘Drag Follies will be showing at the Arts Theatre Club in Patterson Street until May 28.’
    • ‘As if the Paper Mill had blown its funds on Follies, this Gypsy, in sets and costumes that seem underfinanced, also looks underimagined.’
    • ‘The depression wiped out not only the Follies, but also the Vaudeville touring circuit.’
    • ‘The women, now much older, reminisce, rekindle old friendships, open old wounds, and perform some of their Follies numbers.’
    • ‘I would have been very sorry indeed to have missed the latest reincarnation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies.’
    • ‘But Spielberg's strong sense of nostalgia and his increasing sense of irony makes Follies, a forever ‘troubled’ show, a perfect match.’


Middle English: from Old French folie madness in modern French also delight, favorite dwelling (compare with folly), from fol fool, foolish.