Definition of foul in English:

foul

adjective

  • 1Offensive to the senses, especially through having a disgusting smell or taste or being unpleasantly soiled.

    ‘a foul odor’
    ‘his foul breath’
    • ‘The bread had been alright, but the water… it had tasted so foul.’
    • ‘Not many city residents go there to spend an evening because of the foul smell from the sewer, which is in the middle of the garden dividing it into two zones.’
    • ‘A foul stench filled the air, though she could not put a name to what it was.’
    • ‘Both are worried about the effect the leak could have on their own properties as well as the foul smell.’
    • ‘There was a foul stench in the air like that of gunpowder.’
    • ‘The old wooden stairs gave way to concrete, and a foul musty smell filled the air.’
    • ‘It leaks into groundwater from fuel storage tanks, contaminating water supplies with a foul smell and taste.’
    • ‘Garbage and foul smells can sabotage good feng shui.’
    • ‘They began hobbling towards the car, Leanne almost crumbling under the weight and the disgusting, foul smell of alcohol.’
    • ‘He pulled me close to his face, so close that I could smell his foul breath.’
    • ‘A Hong Kong man at the hotel said there was a foul smell and suddenly the corridor filled with smoke.’
    • ‘I was just getting Rick to his feet when a foul stench filled the air.’
    • ‘Many of these residents have complained to me about the foul taste and murky color of their tap water.’
    • ‘I just rolled out of the bed groggy, with a massive headache, sore eyes, a foul taste in my mouth and the smell of cigarettes on my clothes and in my hair.’
    • ‘Dustbins on the road between the commercial establishments and the main road leading to Kalka are not cleaned regularly and emit a foul smell.’
    • ‘He came so close to her she could smell his foul breath, and she turned her head away.’
    • ‘Every time I left my house, I smelled this foul odor of burnt flesh in the air; I didn't know what it was at first.’
    • ‘Ten minutes into our trip a foul smell begins to permeate the carriage; it emanates from the aforementioned toilets.’
    • ‘She sipped her cup of coffee, letting the strong flavor erase the foul aftertaste in her mouth.’
    • ‘The room they entered was a dark, foul-smelling cellar.’
    disgusting, revolting, repellent, repulsive, repugnant, abhorrent, loathsome, offensive, detestable, awful, dreadful, horrible, terrible, horrendous, hideous, appalling, atrocious, vile, abominable, frightful, sickening, nauseating, nauseous, stomach-churning, stomach-turning, off-putting, uninviting, unpalatable, unappetizing, unsavoury, distasteful, nasty, obnoxious, objectionable, odious
    dirty, filthy, mucky, grimy, grubby, stained, dirt-encrusted, muddy, muddied, unclean, unwashed
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal Very disagreeable or unpleasant.
      ‘the news had put Michelle in a foul mood’
      • ‘He was in a foul temper and this was not making matters any better.’
      • ‘I have been foul to you and I must apologize.’
      • ‘Thomas had looked at his brother, completely undisturbed by the foul glare he was giving him.’
      • ‘He came home at 12 pm in a particularly foul mood.’
      • ‘As if my foul mood isn't bad enough, I have just got a notice from DHL informing me that the package I sent from home in February has been lost.’
      • ‘On Wednesday last week Clarke arrived at the paper's offices in Glasgow's Central Quay in a foul temper.’
      • ‘Jo was fun to hang out with, but she had a foul temper.’
      • ‘Francophiles will have discovered long ago that the quality of the wines on sale in French hypermarchés is usually foul.’
      • ‘However, at the time, the atmosphere was foul - even once or twice nearly degenerating into a punch-up.’
      • ‘In hospital she screamed at the nurses. ‘I was foul to them. I became a monster,’ she says, sighing heavily.’
      • ‘Mrs M was in the foulest of moods imaginable. She set us a test tomorrow as EXTRA homework’
      • ‘Interviewed later Diffey said he could not remember much about the incident, but he said he had been in a really foul mood that day.’
      • ‘School starts tonight, it's snowing again, and I'm in a foul mood.’
      • ‘I went upstairs in a foul mood and shut myself in my room.’
      • ‘The 72-year-old R&B legend is in one of his famous foul moods.’
      • ‘Both father and son knew that she would be in a foul mood.’
      • ‘So it is indeed possible that he had no idea he was being so foul.’
      • ‘Never mind me, I'm just in a foul mood after today's work.’
      • ‘‘OK, sorry,’ Leanne said, taken aback by Rob's uncharacteristically foul mood.’
      • ‘I was in a foul mood and looking for a reason to have a row with someone.’
      unkind, unfriendly, disagreeable, inconsiderate, uncharitable, rude, churlish, spiteful, malicious, mean, mean-spirited, ill-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, bad-tempered, hostile, vicious, malevolent, evil-minded, surly, obnoxious, poisonous, venomous, vindictive, malign, malignant, cantankerous, hateful, hurtful, cruel, wounding, abusive
      View synonyms
  • 2Wicked or immoral.

    ‘murder most foul’
    • ‘Handing down a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, the judge said it was an ‘evil and foul’ murder of ‘unspeakable savagery’.’
    • ‘The characters are, with the possible exception of Beatrix, uniformly foul, violent, brutal, cold.’
    • ‘Swindon's most senior Judge John McNaught has dealt with the foulest of crimes in more than 40 years in the courtroom.’
    • ‘Leaders and media observers repeated the nostrum that the best way for the country to respond to such a foul crime is to return to normal and signal that the nation's spirit and resolve cannot be undermined.’
    • ‘Second, racism is a foul, potentially murderous and often actually murderous thing.’
    • ‘Canvassing for the leadership contest degenerated into a vicious campaign in which all kinds of foul means including promise of office and bribery were resorted to.’
    • ‘The methods might have been foul - full of dishonesty, cynicism and hypocrisy - but they worked.’
    • ‘There is a case of murder involved here - and a foul murder, at that - by a person who had a modus operandi that has been known to the police now for years.’
    • ‘You would commit the most foul of murders out of loyalty to me.’
    • ‘King Hamlet's tormented spirit reveals that a hidden crime of foul murder condemns it to walk the earth and roast in hell.’
    • ‘We must stand side by side with the Jewish community, and the evil perpetrators of those foul attacks must be brought to justice.’
    • ‘Our forces will rid the world of the evil men who committed this foul deed.’
    • ‘They came horribly close to succeeding in this foul design.’
    • ‘As Shakespeare knew only too well, from foul deeds endless tragedy arises.’
    • ‘We will do everything in our power to bring to justice those who were responsible for this foul deed.’
    • ‘In the popular consciousness, however, paganism and witchcraft have come to be associated with black magic, foul deeds, even devil-worship.’
    • ‘The phantom king begs Hamlet to avenge his foul murder.’
    • ‘He was too goddamn innocent for her foul mind to understand.’
    • ‘In August 1996 its 10 million citizens were convulsed in grief and anger to hear of the foul deeds of child rapist and murderer, Mark Dutroux.’
    • ‘Most men involved in the search now believed that a foul crime had been committed.’
    1. 2.1 (of language) obscene or profane.
      • ‘Recently a manager of a Scottish Football League side decided to referee his youth teams in a match, and ended up sending two of the boys home, so foul was their abusive language.’
      • ‘However Sheridan then blotted his copy book by getting sent off in the 70th minute for foul and abusive language.’
      • ‘Such moves in future, however, should also attempt to curb the rising tide of foul language, both on the pitch and terraces.’
      • ‘Both players were found guilty of foul and abusive language towards the match official during Acorn's defeat to Normanton Knights on November 20.’
      • ‘The statements are completely uncensored and if foul or explicit language offends you then this probably isn't your thing.’
      • ‘People who use public transport should not have to put up with foul language, aggressive behaviour or the fear of people causing damage.’
      • ‘He was also found guilty of ungentlemanly conduct, but a charge of using foul and abusive language was not proven.’
      • ‘He was allegedly uncooperative and became verbally abusive, using foul 4 - letter words and obscene hand gestures.’
      • ‘Don't be distracted by my foul vocabulary or by your own frustration.’
      • ‘We're hearing a lot more foul language in public these days.’
      • ‘They made their way back to the ship, where Fleet was currently halfway through an incredibly foul and quite inspired stream of profanity.’
      • ‘Even though I learned most of my foul vocabulary from my parents, Mom had one word that was off-limits.’
      • ‘She winced and screamed a very foul and unladylike oath.’
      • ‘Well, foul speech may be offensive, but who can say with certainty what is obscene?’
      • ‘However, your language is exceedingly foul for someone in your position.’
      • ‘Eventually, your little baby is going to blurt out something foul, no matter how sheltered you think she is.’
      • ‘The language is foul (no surprise), and they have been seen urinating in front gardens.’
      • ‘I sat towards the front of the tram which was fairly quiet until a group of late teens / early twenty year old males got on at the back and discussed quite loudly using the foulest of language the events of the previous night.’
      • ‘Elva still tries to find me, screaming foul profanities.’
      • ‘He said the word ‘detectives’ as if it was the most foul profanity.’
      vulgar, obscene, profane, blasphemous, gross, coarse, crude, filthy, dirty, indecent, indelicate, suggestive, smutty, off colour, low, lewd, ribald, salacious, scatological, offensive, abusive
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Done contrary to the rules of a sport.
      ‘a foul tackle’
      • ‘His two foul shots at the end of the 1957 Finals gave the Celtics their first title.’
      • ‘And former New Zealand captain Quentin Pongia was put on report for an alleged foul tackle.’
      • ‘He called four foul throw-ins, invoked the six-second rule against a keeper who had just come on as a substitute and found himself being exceptionally whistle happy.’
      • ‘In the first 20 minutes Knowles put his side into a 2-0 lead with two superb lobbed goals, but was later dismissed following a foul tackle.’
      • ‘There was not a foul or unfair stroke in the game.’
      • ‘From the foul tackle the ball fell loose and crossed the line for a goal.’
      • ‘Therefore, the proportion of foul tackles equates to the likelihood of player error occurring during the execution of a tackle.’
      • ‘So it's pretty ironic that the average NBA player couldn't make a foul shot if his sneaker contract depended on it.’
      • ‘All I can say is that I'll certainly be expecting my men to get stuck in and it's up to the referee after that to decide what s a fair tackle and what s a foul tackle.’
      • ‘In the top of the 8th inning, with one out, a Marlin batter hit a foul fly ball in the direction of the stands.’
      • ‘The eighth was a strikeout, the ninth a pop fly to first base, the 10th a foul pop to the catcher.’
      • ‘Jefferson doesn't back away from contact and plays with emotion - even yelling at himself for something simple like a missed foul shot.’
      unsporting, unsportsmanlike, dirty, below the belt, illegal, illegitimate, illicit, underhand, unscrupulous, dishonourable
      View synonyms
  • 3Containing or charged with noxious matter; polluted.

    ‘foul, swampy water’
    • ‘The sky was the sort of overcast that was not just gray, but the kind of gray that bled the color from all the things around it, a thick smog filling the air, ominous and foul.’
    • ‘Their choice was cold, damp, flooded huts or foul, humid air in an overcrowded ward.’
    • ‘There were also doubts about the ability of the current sewerage system to cope with more foul water and concern over the loss of recreational space.’
    • ‘This has caused foul water pooling in the street and the mosquitoes and rats have arrived.’
    • ‘The air grew foul, the reek of rotting death made them heave as they picked their way through the mass of tangled bodies.’
    • ‘The meter-square bag was found leaking its foul contents outside the office of legislator Leung Yiu-chung in an industrial area of Kowloon.’
    • ‘In the 19th century refuse, waste, water and foul water were just dumped in the streets, resulting in widespread disease.’
    • ‘He claimed they were held in wire cages open to the elements and forced to drink foul water and food that was out of date by up to 10 years.’
    • ‘Less than 10 miles east lies the Potomac River, a foul body of water when we founded this organization in 1966.’
    • ‘It is illegal to discharge foul water into a surface water drain.’
    • ‘Afterwards he lay there, breathing the foul air as shallowly as he could.’
    • ‘They could not approach the city for it was blocked by a foul morass on all sides.’
    • ‘As well, some new sewers will be laid in the town and there will be greater separation of surface water from foul sewer to create more capacity in the treatment plant.’
    • ‘The first few breaths overwhelmed her and she gagged on the foul air.’
    • ‘As London grew from a rambling town into a crowded urban center, its city air grew ever more foul with smoke and unhealthy sulfur dioxide gases from wood-burning and coal-burning stoves.’
    • ‘Most of these tasks were in the pipeline anyway as part of Beijing's plan to modernise its outdated infrastructure and clean up its notoriously foul air.’
    • ‘Pastor's neighborhood of million-dollar homes, all backing up to a private park, was covered with foul, inky water.’
    • ‘At least five homes in Moresby Close, Westlea, were swamped by up to six inches of foul water when a brook flooded and sewers burst during a recent downpour.’
    • ‘If the room had a little light apart from the faulty bedside lamp that flickered unpredictably every few minutes it wouldn't be so bad, or even just a fan that at least to cool and circulate the foul damp air.’
    • ‘In 1285 London's air was so foul that King Edward I set up an air pollution commission, which banned the use of coal.’
    contaminated, polluted, adulterated, infected, tainted, defiled, impure, filthy, dirty, unclean
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1foul withpredicative Clogged or choked with.
      ‘the land was foul with weeds’
      • ‘Wheat is an exhausting crop, which requires land in good heart, whilst if grown continuously, or too frequently, disease often becomes serious, and, most important of all, the land becomes very foul with weeds.’
      • ‘She was glad not to be able to see much of the place, foul with seeping water and fungus, a chamber of old horrors where prisoners hunched under the vaults of cold stone like monstrous white insects, wingless and half-blind.’
    2. 3.2Nautical (of a rope or anchor) entangled.
    3. 3.3 (of a ship's bottom) encrusted with algae, barnacles, or other marine growth.
    4. 3.4Printing (of a first copy or proof) defaced by corrections.
      • ‘The printed texts of Shakespeare's plays that appear to derive from foul paper copy provide a unique glimpse of the playwright in the act of composition.’
  • 4(of the weather) wet and stormy.

    • ‘Horse and rider need to nurture complete trust, to tackle the field in fair weather or foul with cavalier bravery but with two minds, one of them human, intrinsically focused.’
    • ‘The weather was foul this morning and we all got soaked.’
    • ‘On a completely foul day try putting some black and white film in the camera and see what you get.’
    • ‘The weather was foul but we decided to treat ourselves to a Starbucks trip anyway, and were well rewarded.’
    • ‘Often they will be out in foul weather when most of us would rather be tucked up in bed.’
    • ‘With the foul weather, crazy workload and lack of sleep, motivation has been pretty low for the last three months.’
    • ‘Despite predictions of foul weather and traffic chaos, sunny weather lured thousands of tourists to the Lake District.’
    • ‘When I arrived in Cambridge, Mass., in early September 1978, foul weather had already set in.’
    • ‘Both European victories have been on Scottish soil, but the weather was so foul last weekend that it would be wrong the claim the latter was an unqualified success.’
    • ‘The foul weather also keeps most students at school in the middle of the day, making do with very simple food such as plain steamed buns and hot water, for lunch.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, while the Irish and their neighbours in Britain may bemoan the foul weather, spare a thought for residents along the east coast of the USA.’
    • ‘Redhill was the wettest place in England last Tuesday and the coldest in the UK that night as foul weather swept the country.’
    • ‘Hart drove two tons of metal through a foul and wintry February morning, hurtling through the snowy dark.’
    • ‘The new building will have improved facilities, ensuring it remains a welcome retreat for ramblers, particularly after climbing Mount Snowdon in foul weather.’
    • ‘The situation is worse when the weather is foul.’
    • ‘She added that unlike other walkers, groups of charity fund-raisers were not deterred by foul weather, simply because they had to take part in their event on a chosen day.’
    • ‘Initial reports suggest that that crash was an accident because of foul weather.’
    • ‘The sky was darkening quickly, threatening foul weather and danger in the distance.’
    • ‘It was January, the weather was foul, it was after Christmas and people needed cheering up.’
    • ‘As foul weather blighted Manchester's New Year celebrations, people who had not bought tickets turned up at the hotel's doors.’
    inclement, unpleasant, disagreeable, dirty, nasty, rough, bad
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    1. 4.1Sailing (of wind or tide) opposed to one's desired course.
      • ‘This is nearly twice the power usually found on boats this size and provides lots of power for punching through chop and motoring against foul winds and currents.’
      • ‘Nicolson, a successful writer but somewhat inexperienced sailor, teams up with an old salt and buddy George Fairhurst, who continually bails them out of near calamities - foul currents, fierce tides, raging winds and equipment failures.’

noun

  • 1(in sports) an unfair or invalid stroke or piece of play, especially one involving interference with an opponent.

    • ‘In the past decade, Brazilian football has become among the most violent in the world with an astonishing average of around 55 fouls a game in domestic matches.’
    • ‘In last week's ferocious victory over Huddersfield, for example, Ellis was the victim of a deliberate late foul, and was then bitten for good measure.’
    • ‘He fell into the area but the foul looked to have been committed just outside it.’
    • ‘The game was also notable for an atrocious four-man foul on Kerry's most exciting player, Mickey O'Sullivan, who never played the game again.’
    • ‘It was a well-behaved match with very few fouls.’
    • ‘Never a thing of beauty, the game got even scrappier with Tom McCarthy brandishing the yellow card to three perpetrators of clumsy fouls.’
    • ‘Harvey got whistled for a foul and then lost it, followed by Howard.’
    • ‘To be fair to Halsey, he didn't have a good view of the incident, and there was no way he could tell how obvious a foul it was.’
    • ‘Phil Neville and Tim Cahill were both booked, with the former Manchester United midfielder responsible for the foul which forced off Pires.’
    • ‘A series of petty fouls brought a booking for Smertin in the 29th minute, which made him the third Russian to be cautioned by referee Urs Meir.’
    • ‘While the energetic midfielder's two fouls - on Van Bronckhorst and then Pires - just about deserved cautions, a final warning would surely have been a more common-sense decision.’
    • ‘He even had the ball in the net, but was booked for a foul on the goalkeeper.’
    • ‘World Cup referees yesterday vowed to crack down on players who orchestrate and feign fouls to get opponents in trouble.’
    • ‘It took three fouls apiece on Kandi and Ervin Johnson to force Saunders's hand in the direction he should have been following all along - playing Mark Madsen.’
    • ‘Owen had a much more convincing penalty appeal just before half-time, but Andreas Dober somehow got away with a blatant, over-the-top foul.’
    • ‘Drummond, Carlton and Lee Collins also had further chances - and all Aldershot could muster in reply, a succession of fouls apart, was a Jim Rodwell shot from long range on 37 minutes.’
    • ‘It was a tough time for the French and Silvestre, having already been booked for a foul on Gillespie, just couldn't contain the winger in the 69th minute.’
    • ‘Ray Parlour committed four fouls himself before he got his first booking.’
    • ‘Jim Leishman had words with referee John Underhill after the game concerning the foul that led to the second goal.’
    • ‘My biggest concern would be can he stay in the game without having a lot of fouls called against him.’
    unfair, against the rules, illegal, unsporting, unsportsmanlike, below the belt, dirty, dishonourable, dishonest, underhand, unscrupulous, unjust, unprincipled, immoral, crooked, fraudulent
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A collision or entanglement in riding, rowing, or running.
      • ‘With a personal best of 6.68m from earlier in the season, she surprisingly had fouls on her first two efforts and waited long on the runway as she composed herself for her last attempt.’
    2. 1.2
      short for foul ball
  • 2dated, informal A disease in the feet of cattle.

    ‘he was indeed suffering from foul of the foot’

adverb

  • 1Unfairly; contrary to the rules.

    • ‘That's the real problem: even guys who want to play fair are under pressure from cheaters to play foul.’
    • ‘So that if you're knowingly taking advantage of people with a disadvantage, then you're coming foul of the Trade Practices Act.’
    • ‘I think any form of a quota must be done away with whether it is a quota in numbers…or a quota in time, i.e. you have to fill these positions by such and such a time if you do not want to be foul of the law.’
    • ‘Italian editors shrieked that the Austrian team had ‘played foul’.’
    • ‘There have been productions of this play set in innumerable locales and time periods, but I've never seen one that played so foul with the tone of Shakespeare's text.’
    1. 1.1 (in sports) in foul territory.
      ‘if a batter hits a bunt foul with two strikes, he is out’
      • ‘Then, to their surprise, right field umpire John Rice ruled that the ball had gone foul.’
      • ‘Giambi then narrowly missed a three-run homer, his ball down the rightfield line curving foul by a few feet.’
      • ‘Any other hitter would have pulled that pitch foul.’
      • ‘Still it was disappointing - the ball went foul down the first base line.’
      • ‘If he had touched the ball in fair territory before it went foul, the play would have been ruled a fair ball.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Make foul or dirty; pollute.

    ‘factories that fouled the atmosphere’
    • ‘When planning, it's wise to site ponds away from trees as dead leaves will foul the water.’
    • ‘Industrial and human wastes fouled drinking water, turning the Thames into an open sewer whose stench drove Disraeli choking from the chamber of the Commons in the ‘great stink’ of 1858.’
    • ‘Moreover, our dependency on coal to generate energy not only fouls our air, but poisons our fish with mercury.’
    • ‘The spill fouled over 60 miles of the river and 20 marinas in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.’
    • ‘Industry and agriculture have fouled the air, the water, and the soil.’
    • ‘When the EPA found companies fouling our air and water, it instituted a program of pollution credits.’
    • ‘At rush hour the streets are plugged with cars producing vast quantities of toxic gases that foul the air.’
    • ‘The mountains of manure that factory farming generates foul our air and water, disrupting ecosystems and sickening rural communities.’
    • ‘Regional air pollution increased throughout the 1990s and into the current decade as electricity demand, motor vehicle use and industrial activity have increasingly fouled the air.’
    • ‘Its design is outdated and inappropriate; its size, looks, and four-wheel drive bring out the worst in drivers; it clogs streets and fouls the air.’
    dirty, soil, stain, blacken, muddy, begrime, splash, spatter, smear, befoul, besmirch, blight, defile, make filthy, infect, pollute, contaminate, poison, taint, adulterate, sully
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Disgrace or dishonor.
      • ‘These lies had fouled his name.’
      • ‘Wally, not wanting to foul the image of his lifelong hero, had kept this monumental secret until his death.’
      • ‘They claimed ‘the USOC has fouled his reputation by placing his name at the top of a system that, beyond his control, encourages the use of dangerous, illegal drugs by athletes.’’
    2. 1.2 (of an animal) make (something) dirty with excrement.
      ‘make sure that your pet never fouls the sidewalk’
      • ‘On Monday, members of the town council recreation and amenities committee despaired over the number of owners who continue to let their dogs foul public places.’
      • ‘Year six pupils at Arnside National School have designed warning posters to encourage dog owners to think twice about letting their dogs foul the village streets.’
      • ‘But others complain that foxes are digging up their gardens, fouling their lawns, attacking their pets and ripping open their garbage bags.’
      • ‘It follows a previous campaign which has seen fixed penalty notices handed out to owners who allow their dogs to foul the streets and in parks without clearing up after them.’
      • ‘He said even though it was illegal, the biggest problem was policing the situation and actually catching and prosecuting people who allow their dogs to foul the streets and parks.’
      • ‘The land is now being used by the football and rounders club, whose members want to stop dogs fouling the pitch and youngsters riding motorcycles across it.’
      • ‘Swindon Council employs dog wardens whose job is to patrol the borough's streets keeping a watchful eye on careless owners who let their pets foul the streets.’
      • ‘People on the path have also walked through the middle of outdoor lessons and sports activities and dog walkers have allowed their pets to foul the playground.’
      • ‘The Environment Education and Enforcement Team tackles those people who tip rubbish, drop litter and allow their dogs to foul streets and open spaces.’
      • ‘Parish councillor David Sweet is urging residents to report anyone spotted allowing their dog to illegally foul restricted areas such as the High Street.’
      • ‘It was also pointed out that a fence was necessary to stop cattle from getting onto the boat club land and to stop dogs fouling pasture meant for silage.’
      • ‘Concerned residents of the heritage town of Abbeyleix are surprised that there are a few dog owners who look the other way when their pets foul the footpaths and other public places.’
      • ‘Her decision brought to an end many months of wrangling with some of the neighbours, who claimed her cats were fouling their gardens and making their lives hell.’
      • ‘In a zero-tolerance initiative, Manchester city council is cracking down on dog owners who allow their pets to foul public spaces.’
      • ‘Southend Council is waging war against unsociable dog owners who let their pets foul the street.’
      • ‘Anyone who refuses to pay an on-the-spot fine for allowing their pet to foul a footpath, for example, could be taken to court and find their name in the newspapers.’
      • ‘Responsible dog owners in Addingham have been asked to report people who let their pets foul fields, streets and other open spaces in the village.’
      • ‘Now the wardens have received powers to slap £25 fixed penalty notices on litter louts and people who allow their dogs to foul the district's parks.’
      • ‘Dog owners who refuse to clean up after their pets have fouled the streets of York have been reminded they risk a fine of up to £1,000.’
      • ‘More than a hundred fines have now been issued to people who drop litter or let their dogs foul the pavement in Sheffield.’
    3. 1.3foul oneself (of a person) defecate involuntarily.
      • ‘Now and then, she fouled herself or wet herself.’
      • ‘They described ‘torture techniques’ and claimed that detainees had been forced into painful positions for 18 to 24 hours at a time or left to foul themselves.’
      • ‘Nervous of legal action from passengers humiliated by fouling themselves in their seats, most carriers allowed crew to decide whether the person requesting admission to the smallest part of the plane was desperate or a desperado.’
      • ‘For an enemy combatant to foul himself in a hot room is an unpleasant thing.’
      • ‘Sure, I'll still defecate in my pants, but now my excrement will be safely contained and no one need know that I have fouled myself in public.’
  • 2(in sports) commit a foul against (an opponent)

    • ‘Then a terrible back pass from Steven Gerrard saw Thierry Henry fouled by the England goal - keeper David James, allowing Zidane to secure victory with a penalty.’
    • ‘The Reebok held its breath as Okocha strode forward to stroke the spot-kick wide to Kasey Keller's left after Spurs sub Gary Doherty had fouled Youri Djorkaeff.’
    • ‘St Joseph's were put under more pressure when their winger was sent off for fouling Marsden as he scored but this seemed to make the Huddersfield side more committed.’
    • ‘This time Scholes is fouled, giving Beckham another chance to swing it in from the left.’
    • ‘Mark Hudson then hit the crossbar, Moyles was fouled and sub Tom Donovan converted the penalty as Celbridge ran out six point winners.’
    • ‘The end of the game took on a sour note as Tooreen's Sean Ganley was sent off for a second bookable offence when he fouled Ciaran Cox who had come on as a substitute just minutes previously.’
    • ‘Jason Maxwell was once again fouled 40 yards from goal and Danny Walsh hoisted a dangerous cross over.’
    • ‘Silsden were given a lifeline when Hoyle was fouled and Rhodes dispatched another penalty.’
    • ‘Haas is sent off after picking up another yellow for fouling Paul Scholes.’
    • ‘ADF started to dominate the midfield and just before half-time, striker Paul Fleming was fouled in the box.’
    • ‘Rangers defender Khizanishvilli seemed to get the final touch but Larsson was deemed to have fouled De Boer to aid its passage.’
    • ‘Alan Kelly was fouled in the penalty area and Coleman coolly converted the resulting penalty.’
    • ‘Portlaw did have claims for a penalty turned down late on when it seemed keeper Wayne English had fouled a Portlaw player in the area but referee Martin Halley waved play on.’
    • ‘As Collier tried to net from the rebound he was fouled and another penalty was awarded.’
    • ‘It seemed the only way for Blackburn to stop Chelsea was to foul them, and Neill was booked for bringing Robben down as he surged goalwards.’
    • ‘Dave Rogers fouled Moussilou in the eighth minute, and the hosts were awarded a free-kick, which Acimovic fired high over keeper Steve Williams' crossbar.’
    • ‘The keeper fouled his opponent but avoided a red card.’
    • ‘Portland proceeded to foul O'Neal repeatedly, a familiar tactic and one that had often frustrated the big man.’
    • ‘Beckham briefly saw the red mist when he went chasing after Vata and brought him down after clearly believing he had been fouled himself by the Albanian midfielder.’
    • ‘The Town keeper Darren O'Grady was obviously fouled as he went to catch a high punt with Gary Smyth tucking the loose ball into the unguarded net.’
    1. 2.1 Hit a foul ball.
      ‘Carter fouled into the glove of Boggs’
      • ‘As per the rules, if the third strike is fouled into the glove, it is an out.’
      • ‘Raul checkswings and misses on 2-strike count, pulls back, but ump says Raul got it and fouled into the catcher's mitt.’
  • 3(of a ship) collide with or interfere with the passage of (another)

    • ‘In The Edison [1933] AC 449, the appellants, whose vessel had been fouled by the respondents, claimed damages under various heads.’
    1. 3.1 Cause (a cable, anchor, or other object) to become entangled or jammed.
      ‘watch out for driftwood which might foul up the engine’
      no object ‘we feared the anchor would foul in the heavy grasses’
      • ‘Once fouled on the reefs, the nets go on fishing, killing sea turtles, fish, seabirds and other wildlife while destroying corals.’
      • ‘The Stromness lifeboat attended the fishing vessel Arkhangel at 4pm on Saturday after the vessel fouled her propeller 20 miles off Noup Head in Westray.’
      • ‘The vessel, with two men on board raised the alarm just after 9 p.m. when its propeller became fouled.’
      • ‘Her propellor had been fouled and the vessel was stuck to the sea-bed.’
      • ‘It is apparent that the wreck has been cleared to below deck level, with some additional damage to the starboard side of the hull, perhaps a consequence of the Silver Harvest fouling its anchor on the wreck in 1998.’
      • ‘Earlier in the day, they were called to assist a fishing vessel when its propellor became fouled while fishing off Helvick.’
      • ‘Stromness lifeboat was called out at the weekend after a Scrasbter fishing boat fouled her propeller in severe weather conditions.’
      • ‘The vessel's net entangled and fouled the 52-foot motor lifeboat's twin 36-inch brass propellers.’
      tangle up, entangle, snarl, catch, entwine, enmesh, twist, tangle
      View synonyms

Phrases

  • foul one's (own) nest

    • Do something damaging or harmful to oneself or one's own interests.

      • ‘This works in part because the criminals are careful not to foul their own nest.’
      • ‘Of course, this romantic observation occurs in an essay called ‘Murder in the Kitchen,’ in which Watts also writes that by ‘destroying our environment and fouling our own nest… the world around us looks as if we hated it.’’
      • ‘Now the prime minister has gone a step further in the process of fouling his European nest.’
      • ‘I agree we are unlikely to destroy the planet, but are highly likely to foul our nest beyond habitability for ourselves.’
      • ‘At a time when politician-bashing has become a national sport, too many MPs have joined in this campaign, denigrating politics as a vocation. In effect, they are fouling their own nests.’
      • ‘Yet consistently, with appalling regularity and style, he has displayed an equivalent capacity to foul his own nest, plucking frequent disasters from the jaws of personal victory.’
      • ‘Do these other magazines understand that by painting a dark and distorted picture of the bodybuilding world, they are fouling their own nest, shooting themselves in the foot by undermining their own future?’
  • fall foul of

    • Come into conflict with and be undermined by.

      ‘any commitment of resources is likely to fall foul of government cash limitations’
      • ‘Under Westminster rules, he would have been perfectly entitled to receive money from sub-letting the office but he fell foul of the rules because he did not declare it.’
      • ‘The weekend's matches fell foul of the weather once again - the most notable casualty being, as predicted, the fourth round of the York Winter League.’
      • ‘Qobadi was the second leading Iranian film figure in less than a month to fall foul of tighter U.S. immigration policy.’
      • ‘Opponents claim such a move would be a gross violation of civil liberties which is likely in Scotland to fall foul of European human rights legislation.’
      • ‘The building's one small lift is likely to fall foul of new disabled access laws.’
      • ‘He fell afoul of the administration over the banking regulations intended to combat money laundering in the anti-terrorism bill.’
      • ‘His humanist ideals fell foul of the Roman Catholic Church, but he wouldn't relent, and by 1525 the Reformation had arrived.’
      • ‘But his first attempt to open an ice cream parlour at Weeton, near Harrogate, fell foul of Harrogate planners so he moved to Jervaulx, near Ripon.’
      • ‘The sport is already banned in Scotland and looks likely to fall foul of similar bans in England and Wales.’
      • ‘Wilberfoss' batsmen fell foul of Daley Wharton who captured 5 for 19 in a nine-over spell which had them all out for 102.’
      • ‘The 57-year-old fell foul of the law when he claimed income support, council tax and housing benefit after becoming the town crier’
      • ‘She fell foul of planning regulations imposed by her former employer, after hosting hospitality events.’
      • ‘As a leading user of live animals for experiments, this scientific research company fell foul of animal rights activists.’
      • ‘You will most likely fall foul of the Inland Revenue, for example, if you ‘give’ your house away but continue to live in it.’
      • ‘Insiders say that Home Office lawyers warned him his measures were likely to fall foul of the courts; but he pressed on.’
      • ‘I figured I was in a small minority of people who fell afoul of the polygraph.’
      • ‘He said more than 200 businesses a month fell foul of bogus registration agencies, which often used threatening language and headed newspaper.’
      • ‘The new ro-ro ferry service from St Margaret's Hope to Gills Bay in Caithness fell foul of the weather at the weekend, with all sailings on Saturday cancelled.’
      • ‘Vans that simply run from warehouse to retail outlet are less likely to fall foul of the opportunist thief as these are both theoretically secure areas.’
      • ‘The traditional spy story finally petered out in the late 1980s with the end of the Cold War, falling foul of new political realities in the era of ‘Glasnost’ and the fall of the Berlin Wall.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • foul something up (or foul up)

    • Make a mistake with or spoil something.

      ‘leaders should admit when they completely foul things up’
      • ‘But it wasn't enough to take away from the fact the FAI fouled up and were being told so in no uncertain terms.’
      • ‘He didn't take the train because there was a derailment and the schedule was fouled up.’
      • ‘I fouled up in the area where I'm supposed to be a master, the area of just politics.’
      • ‘It must be said that a professedly cash strapped County Board has fouled up a great chance to pull in some badly needed revenue by playing these two games at separate venues on Sunday.’
      • ‘Hollywood's ability to take a perfectly good story and completely foul it up has never ceased to amaze me.’
      • ‘We're just another species - the dominant species, maybe, and the one who's doing the most to foul things up for all the rest, but surely we're flattering ourselves if we think that we are somehow essential to the operation of this planet.’
      • ‘And I thought before you foul things up in your typical fashion you might want to know the truth.’
      • ‘Refreshingly, for the author of a book about lying, she is honest enough to admit when she has fouled up.’
      • ‘Companies make a good product and then they foul it up with a container that the customer can't open.’
      • ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing twice, especially after you've fouled it up the first time.’
      • ‘If anything something should be done because we fouled up so atrociously in the past.’
      • ‘Although it's a relatively easy daily task, reduced with usage to a routine I can accomplish in a couple of minutes, running on auto-pilot, it takes no more than the click of a wrong button in the text editor to foul things up.’
      • ‘If spammers can add enough legitimate sites to the master spam list, they can foul it up and make it less usable.’
      • ‘‘Here was an ideal opportunity for Yorkshire to have done something positive and they have gone and fouled it up,’ he said.’
      • ‘A sweet, tender, loving, affectionate, beautiful woman who pursued ME, and I still found a way to foul it up and lose her.’
      • ‘To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.’
      • ‘I have half a mind to turn up in court on the scheduled date with the bank statements proving that they have fouled up, and then invoicing them for my time.’
      • ‘Practice this shot until you can make it 8 out of 10 times (even the pros will foul it up sometimes.)’
      • ‘Getting compensation when your bank, building society, insurer or investment house fouls up will soon be a lot easier with the establishment of a new financial complaints body to replace the existing muddle of various ombudsmen.’
      • ‘In the coming decades, there's going to be a time of great opportunity if we make the right decisions, if government doesn't foul it up.’
      wreck, ruin, spoil, disrupt, undo, upset, play havoc with, make a mess of, put an end to, end, bring to an end, put a stop to, terminate, prevent, frustrate, blight, crush, quell, quash, dash, scotch, shatter, vitiate, blast, devastate, demolish, sabotage, torpedo
      View synonyms
  • foul out

    • 1Be put out of the game for exceeding the permitted number of fouls.

      • ‘The only MIT player to foul out was Randy Hyun '95, who committed his fifth with two seconds left in the game.’
      • ‘James ended the game with only three fouls; a player fouls out of the game with his sixth.’
      • ‘After a few more trips up and down the floor, I picked up my fourth and fifth fouls, causing me to foul out in just over 5 minutes of play.’
      • ‘When Indiana played Phoenix two years ago, the Mercury had 2 players foul out of the game and two others with 5 fouls.’
      • ‘Both Long and Jensen played much of the second half with four fouls, but managed to avoid fouling out.’
      1. 1.1(of a batter) be made out by hitting a foul ball that is caught by an opposing player.
        ‘Wilson has never fouled out against this young pitcher’
        • ‘It turned out, that Snider walked, Musial grounded out to second, Hodges popped out to second and the fourth batter fouled out to catcher Yogi Berra.’
        • ‘But reliever Mike Myers got Jose Cruz to foul out, helped by first baseman McCarty, who tracked down the ball in the bullpen, and Jorge Cantu to ground to second.’
        • ‘In the second frame, Steve Garvey fouled out to the catcher,’
        • ‘Waechter struck out Martinez, walked John Olerud, loading the bases, and got out of the jam when Mike Cameron fouled out to C Toby Hall.’
        • ‘Rivera surrendered two runs on five hits before finally getting Carlos Beltran to foul out to Jorge Posada with the bases loaded to close out the Yankees’ 11-8 victory.’

Origin

Old English fūl, of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse fúll ‘foul’, Dutch vuil ‘dirty’, and German faul ‘rotten, lazy’, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin pus, Greek puos ‘pus’, and Latin putere ‘to stink’.

Pronunciation

foul

/foul//faʊl/