Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


On that foul throng that wrought them wrong—on Jury and on Judge!

"Streams may spring from one source, and yet some be clear and some be foul," quoth she quickly.

What did you, then, when you snatched her from her home by some foul trick?

That was, in fact, the only blot on his father's honour—a foul and grave blot it was.

A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul.

They no more wanted to be touched by iron than by filth, or foul disease.

And how warm and pleasant the place was throughout the foul winter weather!

On the night in question, Mattup was on a week's losing streak and was in a foul humor.

"This is what love can be these days, foul as two pigs in a sty," said the harbor.

Foul work somewhere, but, as always, it will be nobody's fault.


Old English ful "rotten, unclean, vile, corrupt, offensive to the senses," from Proto-Germanic *fulaz (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian ful, Middle Dutch voul, Dutch vuil, Old High German fül, German faul, Gothic füls), from root *fu-, corresponding to PIE *pu-, perhaps from the sound made in reaction to smelling something bad (cf. Sanskrit puyati "rots, stinks," putih "foul, rotten;" Greek puon "discharge from a sore;" Latin pus "putrid matter," putere "to stink," putridus "rotten;" Lithuanian puviu "to rot").

Old English ful occasionally meant "ugly" (as contrasted with fæger (adj.), modern fair (adj.)), a sense frequently found in Middle English, and the cognate in Swedish is the usual word for "ugly." Of weather, first recorded late 14c. In the sporting sense of "irregular, unfair" it is first attested 1797, though foul play is recorded from mid-15c. Baseball sense of "out of play" attested by 1860. Foulmart was a Middle English word for "polecat" (from Old English mearð "marten").


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.