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[fol-ee] /ˈfɒl i/
noun, plural follies for 2–6.
the state or quality of being foolish; lack of understanding or sense.
a foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; absurdity:
the folly of performing without a rehearsal.
a costly and foolish undertaking; unwise investment or expenditure.
Architecture. a whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, commemorate a person or event, etc.: found especially in England in the 18th century.
follies, a theatrical revue.
Obsolete. wickedness; wantonness.
Origin of folly
1175-1225; Middle English folie < Old French, derivative of fol, fou foolish, mad. See fool1
Related forms
superfolly, noun, plural superfollies.
2. imprudence, rashness, mistake, foolishness, indiscretion, injudiciousness; madness, lunacy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for folly
  • No wonder some cultures think selecting a lifelong mate based on something so fleeting is folly.
  • She had a round face and eyes that sparkled with the certainty that human folly ruled and wasn't that a hoot.
  • No wonder some cultures think selecting a life-long mate based on something so fleeting is folly.
  • Second is the vulnerability of waters to this destructive folly.
  • Wit which borders on profaneness deserves to be branded with folly.
  • Perish with him the folly that seeks through evil good.
  • They who delight to be flattered pay for their folly by a late repentance.
  • His wide-sweeping satirical purpose requires a comprehensive display of human ignorance, folly, and iniquity.
  • In the language of the holy scriptures this alone is called science: every other science is termed folly.
  • He once famously said that guns and bombs are witness to human folly.
British Dictionary definitions for folly


noun (pl) -lies
the state or quality of being foolish; stupidity; rashness
a foolish action, mistake, idea, etc
a building in the form of a castle, temple, etc, built to satisfy a fancy or conceit, often of an eccentric kind
(pl) (theatre) an elaborately costumed revue
  1. evil; wickedness
  2. lewdness; wantonness
Word Origin
C13: from Old French folie madness, from fou mad; see fool1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for folly

early 13c., "mental weakness; unwise conduct" (in Middle English including wickedness, lewdness, madness), from Old French folie (12c.) "folly, madness, stupidity," from fol (see fool (n.)). Sense of "costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder" is attested from 1650s. Used since Middle English of place names, especially country estates, as a form of Old French folie in its meaning "delight." Meaning "glamorous theatrical revue with lots of pretty girls" is from 1880, from French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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