use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

fool (fl)
Share:
n.
1. One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or understanding.
2. One who acts unwisely on a given occasion: I was a fool to have quit my job.
3. One who has been tricked or made to appear ridiculous; a dupe: They made a fool of me by pretending I had won.
4. Informal A person with a talent or enthusiasm for a certain activity: a dancing fool; a fool for skiing.
5. A member of a royal or noble household who provided entertainment, as with jokes or antics; a jester.
6. One who subverts convention or orthodoxy or varies from social conformity in order to reveal spiritual or moral truth: a holy fool.
7. A dessert made of stewed or puréed fruit mixed with cream or custard and served cold.
8. Archaic A mentally deficient person; an idiot.
v. fooled, fool·ing, fools
v.tr.
1. To deceive or trick; dupe: "trying to learn how to fool a trout with a little bit of floating fur and feather" (Charles Kuralt).
2. To confound or prove wrong; surprise, especially pleasantly: We were sure they would fail, but they fooled us.
v.intr.
1. Informal
a. To speak or act facetiously or in jest; joke: I was just fooling when I said I had to leave.
b. To behave comically; clown.
c. To feign; pretend: He said he had a toothache but he was only fooling.
2. To engage in idle or frivolous activity.
3. To toy, tinker, or mess: shouldn't fool with matches.
adj.
Informal
Foolish; stupid: off on some fool errand or other.
Phrasal Verbs:
fool around Informal
1. To engage in idle or casual activity; putter: was fooling around with the old car in hopes of fixing it.
2. To engage in frivolous activity; make fun.
3. To engage in casual sexual activity.
4.
a. To have a sexual affair with someone who is not one's spouse or partner.
b. To have many sexual affairs.
fool away
To waste (time or money) foolishly; squander: fooled away the week's pay on Friday night.
Idiom:
play/act the fool
1. To act in an irresponsible or foolish manner.
2. To behave in a playful or comical manner.

[Middle English fol, from Old French, from Late Latin follis, windbag, fool, from Latin follis, bellows; see bhel-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.