Main definitions of fool in English

: fool1fool2



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

    ‘what a fool I was to do this’
    • ‘I will continue to not know such-and-such if I'm treated like an ignorant, unsophisticated fool.’
    • ‘He didn't want to look a fool in front of his newest friend.’
    • ‘Yes, I am a drooling, venal dishonest fool who is just lying because she's mean.’
    • ‘That's a bad solution when taking out one fool will accomplish the same thing.’
    • ‘Hey, any fool can open his mouth and espouse a set of ideals, but few ever put them into practice.’
    • ‘This black-robed fool can spout things like this in public, and nobody cares.’
    • ‘You're just an old-fashioned, close-minded fool who is stuck back in the dark ages!’
    • ‘We're all on a fool's errand, credit card in hand.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After a while I got concerned that some fool would shoot it.’
    • ‘More than a necessary evil, it has become a mandatory fool's errand.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The only reason big corporations want to open casinos is to part fools from their money.’
    • ‘Your email, as any fool can see, verges on illiteracy and incoherence.’
    • ‘No doctor wants to appear a fool in front of his or her colleagues.’
    • ‘She was making me look like a fool in front of my family.’
    • ‘Dealing with drunken fools who don't know when to quit is the downside to any bar job.’
    • ‘Only fools ever think they can turn things around once it's over.’
    • ‘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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical A jester or clown, especially one retained in a 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Samis are often stereotyped as the comical helpers of Santa Claus or, even more negatively, as drunken fools or jesters.’
      jester, court jester, clown, buffoon, comic, joker, jokester, zany, merry andrew
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2informal A person devoted to a particular activity.
      ‘he is a running fool’
      • ‘He's weak, an opportunistic fool for love, and finally pathetic.’
      • ‘And lovesick fool that I am, I always fall for his song and dance.’
      • ‘The poor old fool truly did live to serve.’
      • ‘It's a nice little job on the side; since I'm the picture taking fool might as well put it all together in a good package.’
    3. 1.3archaic A person who is duped.
      • ‘I think Australians would resent this government if they saw they were being duped and treated like fools by them.’
      • ‘However transitory the contentment is, one loves to live in a fool's paradise.’
      • ‘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?’
      laughing stock, dupe, butt, gull, pushover, easy mark, tool, cat's paw
      View synonyms


  • 1 Trick or deceive (someone); dupe.

    ‘he fooled nightclub managers into believing he was a successful businessman’
    ‘she had been fooling herself in thinking she could remain indifferent’
    • ‘Perhaps fooled by our mangy appearance, he insisted that we order something, his treat.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Throw the ball down the middle and let the action on his pitches fool the hitter.’
    • ‘But I think they are fooling themselves as much as they are trying to fool you.’
    • ‘They must think I'm easily fooled just cuz I'm a kid.’
    • ‘I hope you didn't let last year's fake new millennium fool you.’
    • ‘Do you really think I will be fooled by such simple tricks?’
    • ‘He even pointed to it, and Mark knew the man was easily fooled.’
    • ‘The design is practically flawless, the use of textures and atmosphere so real that you are fooled into a sense of realism.’
    • ‘She was fooled into using her fame to help promote a slimming drink, which turned out to be tea.’
    • ‘But most (though not all) modern systems won't be fooled by the trick.’
    • ‘"You can't fool all the people all the time, " declared Lincoln.’
    • ‘People do parlor tricks because they fool people, right?’
    • ‘Like most young boys, he saw something irresistible in fooling people with magic tricks.’
    • ‘You can't fool all the people, not even most of the time.’
    • ‘He could be trying to warn you not to be fooled by appearances.’
    • ‘If they fool you, they are really just fooling themselves and will end up with a room that will not make them happy.’
    • ‘We find safety in our technology, even though these shields are cheap tricks, designed to fool us into thinking we are emotionally armored.’
    • ‘But those who thought they saw statistical relationships were in fact fooled by randomness.’
    • ‘Do you mean to suggest that Chinese people are fooled or fool themselves into living in a false world?’
    deceive, trick, play a trick on, hoax, dupe, take in, mislead, delude, hoodwink, bluff, beguile, gull, make a fool of, outwit
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[no object]Act in a joking, frivolous, or teasing way.
      ‘I shouted at him impatiently to stop fooling around’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      fiddle, play, play about, play around, toy, trifle, meddle, tamper, interfere, monkey about, monkey around
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2North 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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘However, he neglected to tell me that he had a girlfriend for the entire three years we'd been fooling around.’
      • ‘I think he's fooling around with somebody and wants to have the both of us around to play these silly mind games with.’
      • ‘"Stop fooling around Kira, " snapped Rava, coming to a quick halt and eyeing the girl.’
      • ‘We fooled around a bit, you know.’
      • ‘"I'm not fooling around, " Colby replied, his own eyes darkening.’
      philander, womanize, flirt, have an affair, commit adultery
      View synonyms


  • [attributive] Foolish or silly.

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


  • be no (or nobody's) fool

    • Be a shrewd or prudent person.

      • ‘Alex was very clever at school and was nobody's fool.’
      • ‘His considerable personal successes underline he is no fool.’
      • ‘You can paint the cow or bathe it in perfume, but to no avail - the bull is no fool.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Lanidae is nobody's fool, he is aware of something that is in his realm, but beyond that I cannot help you.’
      • ‘But Abelard was an odd man and nobody's fool.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But Mammy is nobody's fool, least of all Scarlett's.’
      • ‘Harry is nobody's fool, and he knows that his time is running out.’
  • a fool and his money are soon parted

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Absent government-imposed distortions, 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 judgment 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 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!’
      • ‘‘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 dragged her away, demanding to know what was going on between them - I wasn't prepared to be made a fool of like this.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      1. 1.1Behave in an incompetent or inappropriate way that makes one appear foolish.
        • ‘Some officials, if not the government, are making a fool of themselves by targeting the NGOs and maligning them.’
        • ‘‘Most people are so scared of making a fool of themselves that they forget to listen,’ added Hanscombe.’
        • ‘Other pitfalls of course include making a fool of yourself in front of colleagues at the office party.’
        • ‘The important thing is not to mind making a fool of yourself.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Meanwhile, Nicholls was making a fool of himself whenever his band appeared; seeming childish and conceited in interviews and crazed on stage.’
        • ‘Liam smiled and appeared to be refusing to look at me while I made a fool of myself.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Durkee had never appeared on camera before and feared making a fool of herself.’
  • play (or act) the fool

    • Behave in a playful or silly way.

      • ‘They were acting the fool and I just caught them in the act of acting the fool.’
      • ‘But the film belongs to Clooney, who plays the fool and the charmer with polished, devil-may-care ease.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On stage four young men are rapping, dancing, dissing each other and playing the fool.’
      • ‘I, rather than being tricked and playing the fool, prefer being slapped in the face.’
      • ‘Senior prisons officers said Friday that the inmates were not on a hunger strike but were ‘simply playing the fool.’’
      • ‘To my relief, both seem willing to offer more than just two-word replies today, with neither playing the fool.’
      • ‘Have things changed this much, or am I just once again playing the fool by believing him?’
      • ‘Now, when at work, he was able to play the fool - an idiot with a Rolleiflex.’
      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 behavior 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.’
      • ‘Just goes to show, there's no fool like an old fool, especially an old fool that trusts the piskies.’
      • ‘As for Khan, there's no fool like an old fool.’
  • 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!’

Phrasal Verbs

  • fool with

    • 1Toy with; play idly with.

      ‘I like fooling with cameras’
      • ‘My presumption would be that she's just fooling with the numbers.’
      • ‘It would show my mother, aunt and uncle the error of their strip-mining ways, the folly of fooling with Gaia all these years.’
      • ‘Can somebody remind me why we let scientists fool with particle accelerators?’
      • ‘Well, there are some stations that do fool with us as far as that's concerned.’
      • ‘I didn't fool with the settings today, so I've no clue.’
      • ‘If you're going to switch time periods and location around, you're fooling with the entire narrative.’
      • ‘It's game is to fool with the very DNA of the world's food supply-putting animal genes into tomatoes, pesticides into corn, etc.’
      • ‘‘Anytime some software fools with random numbers that is not under [the user's] control, that's bad,’ he said.’
      • ‘I assume that there's still direct Federal benefits in here; if so, it's not worth the trouble of fooling with them for now.’
      • ‘He never fooled with drugs, never drank, never smoked, and went to church.’
      1. 1.1Tease (a person)
        ‘we've just been fooling with you’
        • ‘This is my fault, I shouldn't have been fooling with you while you were driving.’
        • ‘I just hope that a nurse hadn't been fooling with him.’
        • ‘You can't imagine either of them, ever, fooling with anybody else.’
        • ‘Leon knew firsthand what a flirt and tease Barbie was, she fooled with all the men.’


Middle English: from Old French fol fool, foolish from Latin follis bellows, bag by extension empty-headed person; compare with fils, follis.




Main definitions of fool in English

: fool1fool2



  • [usually with modifier] A cold dessert made of pureed fruit mixed or served with cream or custard.

    ‘raspberry fool with cream’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I think I love the names of trifles, possets, fools and syllabubs more than I enjoy eating them.’
    • ‘A chickpea purée called fool is eaten at breakfast.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Use it trickled over ice-cream sundaes, on pancakes, or with the banana fool above.’
    • ‘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.’


Late 16th century: perhaps from fool.