• To make dirty.
  • To besmirch.
  • To clog or obstruct.
  • To entangle.
  • To make contact with an opposing player in order to gain advantage.
  • To hit outside of the baselines.
  • To become clogged.
  • To become entangled.
  • To commit a foul.
  • To hit a ball outside of the baselines.


  • A breach of the rules of a game, especially one involving inappropriate contact with an opposing player in order to gain an advantage; for example, tripping someone up in soccer, or contact of any kind in basketball.
  • A (usually accidental) contact between a bowler and the lane before the bowler has released the ball.
  • A foul ball, a ball which has been hit outside of the base lines.


Similar words


  • From Middle English foul, from Old English fūl ("foul, unclean, impure, vile, corrupt, rotten, guilty"), from Proto-Germanic *fūlaz ("foul, rotten"), from Proto-Indo-European *puH- ("to rot"). Cognate with Dutch vuil ("foul"), German faul ("rotten, putrid"), Danish and Swedish ful ("foul"), and through Indo-European, with Albanian fëlliq ("to make dirty"), Latin puter ("rotten"). More at putrid.
  • Ancient Greek φαῦλος ("bad") is a false cognate inasmuch as it is not from the same etymon, instead being cognate to few.
  • From Middle English foulen, fulen, from Old English fūlian, from Proto-Germanic *fūlāną.

Modern English dictionary

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