There are 2 main definitions of fool in English:

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fool1

Syllabification: fool
Pronunciation: /fo͞ol
 
/

noun

1A person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person: what a fool I was to do this
More example sentences
  • Dealing with drunken fools who don't know when to quit is the downside to any bar job.
  • More than a necessary evil, it has become a mandatory fool's errand.
  • We're all on a fool's errand, credit card in hand.
Synonyms
informal nitwit, halfwit, dope, ninny, nincompoop, chump, dimwit, dingbat, dipstick, goober, coot, goon, dumbo, dummy, ditz, dumdum, fathead, butthead, numbskull, numbnuts, dunderhead, thickhead, airhead, flake, lamebrain, mouth-breather, zombie, nerd, peabrain, birdbrain, scissorbill, jughead, jerk, donkey, twit, goat, dork, twerp, lamer, schmuck, bozo, boob, turkey, schlep, chowderhead, dumbhead, goofball, goof, goofus, doofus, hoser, galoot, lummox, knuckle-dragger, klutz, putz, schlemiel, sap, meatball, dumb cluck, mook
vulgar slang asshat
1.1 historical A jester or clown, especially one retained in a noble household.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • Samis are often stereotyped as the comical helpers of Santa Claus or, even more negatively, as drunken fools or jesters.
Synonyms
jester, court jester, clown, buffoon, joker, zany
1.2 informal A person devoted to a particular activity: he is a running fool
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • And lovesick fool that I am, I always fall for his song and dance.
  • The poor old fool truly did live to serve.
1.3 archaic A person who is duped.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • However transitory the contentment is, one loves to live in a fool's paradise.
Synonyms
informal stooge, sucker, fall guy, sap

verb

[with object] Back to top  
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
More example sentences
  • Do you mean to suggest that Chinese people are fooled or fool themselves into living in a false world?
  • She was fooled into using her fame to help promote a slimming drink, which turned out to be tea.
  • The design is practically flawless, the use of textures and atmosphere so real that you are fooled into a sense of realism.
Synonyms
informal con, bamboozle, pull a fast one on, take for a ride, pull the wool over someone's eyes, put one over on, have on, diddle, fiddle, sting, shaft, snooker, stiff, euchre, hornswoggle
literary cozen
1.1 [no object] Act in a joking, frivolous, or teasing way: I shouted at him impatiently to stop fooling around
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.2 [no object] (fool around) chiefly North American Engage in casual or extramarital sexual activity.
Example sentences
  • I think he's fooling around with somebody and wants to have the both of us around to play these silly mind games with.
  • However, he neglected to tell me that he had a girlfriend for the entire three years we'd been fooling around.
  • But for most of history, they just did the fooling around without calling it anything.
Synonyms
philander, womanize, flirt, have an affair, commit adultery, cheat
informal play around, mess around, carry on, play the field, sleep around

adjective

[attributive] informal Back to top  
Foolish or silly: that damn fool waiter
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Lord knows nothing else in the fool thing works.
  • Sorry about the fool thing, I just got carried away.

Origin

Middle English: from Old French fol 'fool, foolish', from Latin follis 'bellows, bag', by extension 'empty-headed person'; compare with fils1, follis.

More
  • The root of fool is Latin follis, which originally meant ‘bellows, windbag’, and came to mean ‘an empty-headed person’, in the same way that windbag (LME, but E19th in this sense) does in English. The use of fool to mean a jester or clown also goes back to the Middle Ages. People in the 16th century seem to have been particularly aware of the ways in which someone may come to grief through lack of wisdom, especially in their dealings with others. A fool and his money are soon parted, a fool at forty is a fool indeed, and there's no fool like an old fool all come from this period. Two centuries later foolish behaviour was still a matter for concern—in 1711 the poet Alexander Pope published the line which has become proverbial, ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’ Eager prospectors have been mistaking worthless minerals such as iron pyrites, or fool's gold, for gold since the late 19th century. The term foolscap for a paper size dates from the late 17th century, and is said to be named after a former watermark representing a fool's cap. Sadly, a traditional story that after the Civil War Parliament gave orders that a fool's cap should replace the royal arms in the watermark of the paper used for the Journals of the House of Commons apparently has no basis in fact.

Phrases

be no (or nobody's) fool

1
Be a shrewd or prudent person.
Example sentences
  • Alex was very clever at school and was nobody's fool.
  • George, who was nobody's fool, didn't believe him.
  • The Cardinal, who was nobody's fool, knew fine what kind of a send-off he could expect.

a fool and his money are soon parted

2
proverb A foolish person spends money carelessly and will soon be penniless.
Example sentences
  • Absent government-imposed distortions, a fool and his money are soon parted.
  • 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?

fools rush in where angels fear to tread

3
proverb People without good sense or judgment will have no hesitation in tackling a situation that even the wisest would avoid.
Example sentences
  • Perhaps it's foolish, but fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.

make a fool of

4
Trick or deceive (someone) so that they look foolish.
Example sentences
  • He is made a fool of and all's well that ends well.
  • 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!
(make a fool of oneself)4.1 Behave in an incompetent or inappropriate way that makes one appear foolish.
Example sentences
  • Meanwhile, Nicholls was making a fool of himself whenever his band appeared; seeming childish and conceited in interviews and crazed on stage.
  • Durkee had never appeared on camera before and feared making a fool of herself.
  • Liam smiled and appeared to be refusing to look at me while I made a fool of myself.

play (or act) the fool

5
Behave in a playful or silly way.
Example sentences
  • Have things changed this much, or am I just once again playing the fool by believing him?
  • 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.
Synonyms
clown around, fool around, mess around, monkey around, joke
informal horse around

there's no fool like an old fool

6
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.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • There's no fool like an old fool, these old goats don't know how foolish they look.

you could have fooled me!

7
Used to express cynicism or doubt about an assertion: “Fun, was it? Well, you could have fooled me!”
More example sentences
  • 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

1
Toy with; play idly with: I like fooling with cameras
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • It would show my mother, aunt and uncle the error of their strip-mining ways, the folly of fooling with Gaia all these years.
  • My presumption would be that she's just fooling with the numbers.
1.1Tease (a person): we’ve just been fooling with you
More example sentences
  • Leon knew firsthand what a flirt and tease Barbie was, she fooled with all the men.
  • 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.

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There are 2 main definitions of fool in English:

Share this entry

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fool2

Syllabification: fool
Pronunciation: /fo͞ol
 
/

noun

[usually with modifier] chiefly British
A cold dessert made of pureed fruit mixed or served with cream or custard: raspberry fool with cream
More example sentences
  • Fruit fools, jellies, and ice creams were popular desserts.
  • For dessert, we ordered the rhubarb and strawberry fool, with stem ginger ice cream.
  • Use it trickled over ice-cream sundaes, on pancakes, or with the banana fool above.

Origin

late 16th century: perhaps from fool1.

More
  • The root of fool is Latin follis, which originally meant ‘bellows, windbag’, and came to mean ‘an empty-headed person’, in the same way that windbag (LME, but E19th in this sense) does in English. The use of fool to mean a jester or clown also goes back to the Middle Ages. People in the 16th century seem to have been particularly aware of the ways in which someone may come to grief through lack of wisdom, especially in their dealings with others. A fool and his money are soon parted, a fool at forty is a fool indeed, and there's no fool like an old fool all come from this period. Two centuries later foolish behaviour was still a matter for concern—in 1711 the poet Alexander Pope published the line which has become proverbial, ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’ Eager prospectors have been mistaking worthless minerals such as iron pyrites, or fool's gold, for gold since the late 19th century. The term foolscap for a paper size dates from the late 17th century, and is said to be named after a former watermark representing a fool's cap. Sadly, a traditional story that after the Civil War Parliament gave orders that a fool's cap should replace the royal arms in the watermark of the paper used for the Journals of the House of Commons apparently has no basis in fact.

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