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[fool] /ful/
a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.
a professional jester, formerly kept by a person of royal or noble rank for amusement:
the court fool.
a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid:
to make a fool of someone.
an ardent enthusiast who cannot resist an opportunity to indulge an enthusiasm (usually preceded by a present participle):
He's just a dancing fool.
a weak-minded or idiotic person.
verb (used with object)
to trick, deceive, or impose on:
They tried to fool him.
verb (used without object)
to act like a fool; joke; play.
to jest; pretend; make believe:
I was only fooling.
Verb phrases
fool around,
  1. to putter aimlessly; waste time:
    She fooled around all through school.
  2. to philander or flirt.
  3. to be sexually promiscuous, especially to engage in adultery.
fool away, to spend foolishly, as time or money; squander:
to fool away the entire afternoon.
fool with, to handle or play with idly or carelessly:
to be hurt while fooling with a loaded gun; to fool with someone's affections.
be nobody's fool, to be wise or shrewd.
Origin of fool1
1225-75; Middle English fol, fool < Old French fol < Latin follis bellows, bag; cf. follis
Related forms
unfooled, adjective
unfooling, adjective
well-fooled, adjective
1. simpleton, dolt, dunce, blockhead, numskull, ignoramus, dunderhead, ninny, nincompoop, booby, saphead, sap. 2. zany, clown. 5. moron, imbecile, idiot. 6. delude, hoodwink, cheat, gull, hoax, cozen, dupe, gudgeon.
1. genius. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fooling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My new gun went off while I was fooling with it, with my hand over the muzzle.

    Ranson's Folly Richard Harding Davis
  • I wouldn't have minded humoring him and fooling about it a little.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • He moved with a celerity that amazed me, when I remembered how exasperatingly slow he could be, fooling with kites.

    Tales of Fishes Zane Grey
  • Warner's fooling amused them and relieved the painful tension of their minds.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Never mind all that: it's only a fellow here who has been fooling with the telephone.

    Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress George Bernard Shaw
British Dictionary definitions for fooling


a person who lacks sense or judgement
a person who is made to appear ridiculous
(formerly) a professional jester living in a royal or noble household
(obsolete) an idiot or imbecile: the village fool
(Caribbean) form the fool, to play the fool or behave irritatingly
no fool, a wise or sensible person
play the fool, act the fool, to deliberately act foolishly; indulge in buffoonery
(transitive) to deceive (someone), esp in order to make him or her look ridiculous
(intransitive; foll by with, around with, or about with) (informal) to act or play (with) irresponsibly or aimlessly: to fool around with a woman
(intransitive) to speak or act in a playful, teasing, or jesting manner
(transitive) foll by away. to squander; fritter: he fooled away a fortune
(US) fool along, to move or proceed in a leisurely way
(informal) short for foolish
Word Origin
C13: from Old French fol mad person, from Late Latin follis empty-headed fellow, from Latin: bellows; related to Latin flāre to blow


(mainly Brit) a dessert made from a purée of fruit with cream or custard: gooseberry fool
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from 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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Contemporary definitions for fooling
noun's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for fooling



late 13c., "silly or stupid person," from Old French fol "madman, insane person; idiot; rogue; jester," also "blacksmith's bellows," also an adjective meaning "mad, insane" (12c., Modern French fou), from Latin follis "bellows, leather bag" (see follicle); in Vulgar Latin used with a sense of "windbag, empty-headed person." Cf. also Sanskrit vatula- "insane," literally "windy, inflated with wind."

The word has in mod.Eng. a much stronger sense than it had at an earlier period; it has now an implication of insulting contempt which does not in the same degree belong to any of its synonyms, or to the derivative foolish. [OED]
Meaning "jester, court clown" first attested late 14c., though it is not always possible to tell whether the reference is to a professional entertainer or an amusing lunatic on the payroll. As the name of a kind of custard dish, it is attested from 1590s (the food also was called trifle, which may be the source of the name).
There is no foole to the olde foole [Heywood, 1546]
Feast of Fools (early 14c.), from Medieval Latin festum stultorum) refers to the burlesque festival celebrated in some churches on New Year's Day in medieval times. Fool's gold "iron pyrite" is from 1829. Fool's paradise "state of illusory happiness" is from mid-15c. Foolosopher, a most useful insult, turns up in a 1549 translation of Erasmus. Fool's ballocks is described in OED as "an old name" for the green-winged orchid.


mid-14c., "to be foolish, act the fool," from fool (n.). The meaning "to make a fool of" is recorded from 1590s. Also as a verb 16c.-17c. was foolify. Related: Fooled; fooling. Fool around is 1875 in the sense of "pass time idly," 1970s in sense of "have sexual adventures."


"foolish, silly," considered modern U.S. colloquial, but it is attested from early 13c., from fool (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for fooling



An adept or enthusiast in what is indicated: Lindy was a flying fool

Related Terms


[1920s+; perhaps because the person is devoted to the extent of foolishness]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with fooling
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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