Definition of foul adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//faʊl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//faʊl//
    (fouler, foulest)
    jump to other results
  1. 1dirty and smelling bad foul air/breath a foul-smelling prison Foul drinking water was blamed for the epidemic. Synonymsdisgustingfoul 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, 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 (rather formal) extremely unpleasant in a way that offends you or makes you feel slightly ill. Repulsive usually describes people, their behaviour or habits, which 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/​repulsive/​offensive to somebody to find somebody/​something disgusting/​revolting/​repulsive/​offensive to smell/​taste disgusting/​foul/​gross a(n) disgusting/​foul/​revolting/​offensive/​gross smell a disgusting/​revolting/​gross habit disgusting/​offensive/​gross behaviour a disgusting/​revolting/​repulsive man/​woman/​person
  2. 2(especially British English) very unpleasant; very bad She's in a foul mood. His boss has a foul temper. This tastes foul.
  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. Word OriginOld 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’.Extra examples His boss has a foul temper. I’m sick of her foul mouth. She could smell his foul breath. She exploded in a torrent of foul language. The air in the cell was foul. This tastes foul! a vile/​foul smell in a vile/​foul temper vile/​foul weather/​breathIdioms using dishonest methods if honest ones do not work She’s determined to win, by fair means or foul. (informal) to complain that somebody else has done something wrong or unfair
    fall foul of somebody/something
    jump to other results
    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 American Dictionary entry: foul