Main definitions of fool in English

: fool1fool2

fool1

noun

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

    ‘what a fool I was to do this’
    • ‘That's a bad solution when taking out one fool will accomplish the same thing.’
    • ‘I wish that fool would just make himself disappear.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You're just an old-fashioned, close-minded fool who is stuck back in the dark ages!’
    • ‘I will continue to not know such-and-such if I'm treated like an ignorant, unsophisticated fool.’
    • ‘Only fools ever think they can turn things around once it's over.’
    • ‘She was making me look like a fool in front of my family.’
    • ‘This black-robed fool can spout things like this in public, and nobody cares.’
    • ‘He didn't want to look a fool in front of his newest friend.’
    • ‘More than a necessary evil, it has become a mandatory fool's errand.’
    • ‘Dealing with drunken fools who don't know when to quit is the downside to any bar job.’
    • ‘Hey, any fool can open his mouth and espouse a set of ideals, but few ever put them into practice.’
    • ‘Yes, I am a drooling, venal dishonest fool who is just lying because she's mean.’
    • ‘But when I look at the abundant flow of love and respect in my adult life, I know I'm no fool.’
    • ‘After a while I got concerned that some fool would shoot it.’
    • ‘No doctor wants to appear a fool in front of his or her colleagues.’
    • ‘Moussaoui may not have a fool for a client, but that decision may prove to be a foolish one.’
    • ‘We're all on a fool's errand, credit card in hand.’
    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.
      • ‘Samis are often stereotyped as the comical helpers of Santa Claus or, even more negatively, as drunken fools or jesters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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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    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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The poor old fool truly did live to serve.’
      • ‘And lovesick fool that I am, I always fall for his song and dance.’
    3. 1.3archaic A person who is duped.
      • ‘However transitory the contentment is, one loves to live in a fool's paradise.’
      • ‘But are these nuggets really the key to marketing magic or just fool's gold?’
      • ‘She'd been a fool - an absolute fool - to trust him so blindly in the first place.’
      • ‘I think Australians would resent this government if they saw they were being duped and treated like fools by them.’
      • ‘But no; I was deceiving myself, living in a fool's paradise.’
      laughing stock, dupe, butt, gull, pushover, easy mark, tool, cat's paw
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verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Trick 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’
    • ‘"You can't fool all the people all the time, " declared Lincoln.’
    • ‘But I think they are fooling themselves as much as they are trying to 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 most (though not all) modern systems won't be fooled by the trick.’
    • ‘She was fooled into using her fame to help promote a slimming drink, which turned out to be tea.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The design is practically flawless, the use of textures and atmosphere so real that you are fooled into a sense of realism.’
    • ‘People do parlor tricks because they fool people, right?’
    • ‘Perhaps fooled by our mangy appearance, he insisted that we order something, his treat.’
    • ‘I hope you didn't let last year's fake new millennium fool you.’
    • ‘Do you mean to suggest that Chinese people are fooled or fool themselves into living in a false world?’
    • ‘We find safety in our technology, even though these shields are cheap tricks, designed to fool us into thinking we are emotionally armored.’
    • ‘They must think I'm easily fooled just cuz I'm a kid.’
    • ‘But those who thought they saw statistical relationships were in fact fooled by randomness.’
    • ‘Throw the ball down the middle and let the action on his pitches fool the hitter.’
    • ‘Like most young boys, he saw something irresistible in fooling people with magic tricks.’
    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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    1. 1.1no 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
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    2. 1.2fool aroundNorth American no object Engage in casual or extramarital sexual activity.
      • ‘We fooled around a bit, you know.’
      • ‘Because he wouldn't fool around with her, and for that he must suffer!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The watchman was probably fooling around again - she had no time for this!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, he neglected to tell me that he had a girlfriend for the entire three years we'd been fooling around.’
      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!’
    • ‘And either there aren't any facts or else I can't keep them in my fool head.’
    • ‘That things had changed I discovered in my usual fool way.’
    • ‘Lord knows nothing else in the fool thing works.’
    • ‘Sorry about the fool thing, I just got carried away.’
    • ‘Any fool company can produce an award-winning TV commercial.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘Maybe you can talk some sense into that fool woman,’ he said.’
    • ‘If I promise you that, will you go away and stop risking your fool neck to Kevon's temper?’
    • ‘I know the manor, but not well enough to know the workings of my fool brother's mind.’
    • ‘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 McClain would be known as the fool predecessor to Thrice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was a foolish, late-night idea powered by a little too much alcohol, and a few soppy fool tendencies.’
    • ‘At this point, the greater fool theory prevails.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • be no (or nobody's) fool

    • Be a shrewd or prudent person.

      • ‘But Abelard was an odd man and nobody's fool.’
      • ‘The Cardinal, who was nobody's fool, knew fine what kind of a send-off he could expect.’
      • ‘You can paint the cow or bathe it in perfume, but to no avail - the bull is no fool.’
      • ‘Alex was very clever at school and was nobody's fool.’
      • ‘But Mammy is nobody's fool, least of all Scarlett's.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘George, who was nobody's fool, didn't believe him.’
      • ‘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.

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

      • ‘He is made a fool of and all's well that ends well.’
      • ‘Television can make a fool of us all, but it was difficult to see what the boss was griping about.’
      • ‘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 do not appreciate being made a fool of in my own home,’ she stated.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Nobody makes a fool of Sr. Giovanni and lives to tell the tale!’
      • ‘I get 10 times a kick out of making fools out of you good guys.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘‘Most people are so scared of making a fool of themselves that they forget to listen,’ added Hanscombe.’
  • play (or act) the fool

    • Behave in a playful or silly way.

      • ‘But the film belongs to Clooney, who plays the fool and the charmer with polished, devil-may-care ease.’
      • ‘Now, when at work, he was able to play the fool - an idiot with a Rolleiflex.’
      • ‘I played the fool through much of university and I always had fun.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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
      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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's no fool like an old fool, these old goats don't know how foolish they look.’
  • 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.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • fool with

    • 1Toy with; play idly with.

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

Origin

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

Pronunciation

fool

/ful//fo͞ol/

Main definitions of fool in English

: fool1fool2

fool2

noun

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

    ‘raspberry fool with cream’
    • ‘Celebrate your first spotting with a crumble, then progress to the obligatory and unsurpassable gooseberry fool.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A chickpea purée called fool is eaten at breakfast.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Fruit fools, jellies, and ice creams were popular desserts.’
    • ‘For dessert, we ordered the rhubarb and strawberry fool, with stem ginger ice cream.’

Origin

Late 16th century: perhaps from fool.

Pronunciation

fool

/ful//fo͞ol/