American English

Definition of foul adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    (fouler, foulest)
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  1. 1dirty and smelling bad foul air/breath a foul-smelling prison Foul drinking water was blamed for the epidemic. Thesaurusdisgustingfoul revolting repulsive offensive grossThese words all describe something, especially a smell, taste, or habit, that is extremely unpleasant and often makes you feel slightly ill.disgusting extremely unpleasant and making you feel slightly ill:What a disgusting smell!foul dirty, and tasting or smelling bad:She could smell his foul breath.revolting extremely unpleasant and making you feel slightly ill:The stew looked revolting.disgusting or revolting?Both of these words are used to describe things that smell and taste unpleasant, and unpleasant personal habits and people who have them. There is no real difference in meaning, but disgusting is more frequent, especially in spoken English.repulsive (somewhat formal) extremely unpleasant in a way that offends you or makes you feel slightly ill Repulsive usually describes people, their behavior, or their habits, that you may find offensive for physical or moral reasons.offensive (formal) (especially of smells) extremely unpleasant.gross (informal) (of a smell, taste, or personal habit) extremely unpleasant.Patterns disgusting/revolting/repulsive/offensive to somebody to find somebody/something disgusting/revolting/repulsive/offensive to smell/taste disgusting/foul/revolting/gross a(n) disgusting/foul/revolting/offensive/gross smell/odor a disgusting/foul/revolting/repulsive/gross habit disgusting/repulsive/offensive/gross behavior a disgusting/revolting/repulsive man/woman/person
  2. 2very unpleasant; very bad She's in a foul mood. His boss has a foul temper. This tastes foul. synonyms at terrible
  3. 3(of language) including rude words and swearing synonym offensive foul language I'm sick of her foul mouth (= habit of swearing). He called her the foulest names imaginable.
  4. 4(of weather) very bad, with strong winds and rain a foul night
  5. 5(literary) very evil or cruel synonym abominable a foul crime/murder
  6. NAmE//ˈfaʊlli//
    adverb He swore foully. She had been foully murdered during the night.
  7. Thesaurusterribleawful horrible dreadful foul horrendousThese words all describe something that is very unpleasant.terrible very bad or unpleasant; making you feel unhappy, frightened, upset, ill, guilty, or disapproving:What terrible news! That's a terrible thing to say!awful (somewhat informal) very bad or unpleasant; used to describe something that you do not like or that makes you feel depressed, ill, guilty, or disapproving:That's an awful color. The weather last summer was awful.horrible (somewhat informal) very unpleasant; used to describe something that you do not like:The coffee tasted horrible.dreadful (somewhat informal) very bad or unpleasant; used to describe something that you do not like or that you disapprove of:My schedule is dreadful this week.foul extremely bad or unpleasant:A foul odor came from the kitchen. He was in a foul mood.horrendous (somewhat informal) extremely unpleasant and unacceptable:The traffic around the city was horrendous.Patterns terrible/awful/horrible/dreadful for somebody a(n) terrible/awful/horrible/dreadful/foul thing a(n) terrible/awful/horrible/foul smell terrible/awful/horrible/dreadful/vile/horrendous conditions terrible/awful/horrible/dreadful/foul weather terrible/awful/dreadful news
    noun [uncountable] The foulness of the air
  9. Idioms
    by fair means or foul
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    using dishonest methods if honest ones do not work She's determined to win, by fair means or foul.
    cry foul (informal)
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    to complain that someone else has done something wrong or unfair
    fall foul of somebody/something
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    to get into trouble with a person or an organization because of doing something wrong or illegal to fall foul of the law
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: foul