adverb, adjective
in a state of collision or entanglement: a ship with its shrouds afoul.
run/come/fall afoul of,
to become entangled with: The boat ran afoul of the seaweed.
to come into conflict with: The business had fallen afoul of the new government regulations.

1800–10, Americanism; a-1 + foul Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
afoul (əˈfaʊl)
adv, —adj
1.  (usually foll by of) in or into a state of difficulty, confusion, or conflict (with)
2.  (often foll by of) in or into an entanglement or collision (with) (often in the phrase run afoul of): a yacht with its sails afoul; the boat ran afoul of a steamer

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"entangled," 1809, originally nautical, now mainly in phrase to run afoul of; from a- (1) + foul.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Many of the incarcerated mothers were not model parents before they ran afoul
  of the law.
We have all heard disaster stories of foreign campuses forced to close and of
  offshore ventures falling afoul of host governments.
Exceptions require administrators who are willing to do the necessary paperwork
  and perhaps risk running afoul of their superiors.
And there's still a risk that the plan could run afoul of rating agencies,
  earning the official default stamp.
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