Foul or Fowl?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Foul" and "Fowl"?

"Foul" and "fowl" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms).
  • "Foul" means bad, revolting, or distasteful. For example:
    • This tomato tastes foul.
    • In fair weather, you must prepare for foul weather. (Writer Thomas Fuller)
  • In sport, a "foul" is is unfair play. For example:
    • That was a foul, referee.
  • A "fowl" is a bird, namely gamefowl, landfowl, and waterfowl. For example:
    • Many birds that are eaten by humans are fowl, including poultry such as chickens or turkeys.
    foul or fowl?

    More about "Foul"

    The adjective "foul" describes something bad or repulsive. Example sentences with "foul":
    • It is better to use fair means and fail than foul means and conquer. (Roman historian Sallust)
    In sport, the noun "foul" is a violation of the rules of the game.
    • Golf is the only game I know where you call a foul on yourself. (Baseball executive Joe Torre)

    More about "Fowl"

    The noun "fowl" means a bird or birds. (NB: "Fowl" is the plural of "fowl.") Fowl can be barnyard birds, domesticated birds, or wild birds.

    Example sentences with "fowl":
    • People always say "Etta, you know what your problem is? You're neither fish nor fowl. There is no place to rack you." (Singer Etta James)
    • Many languages do not distinguish between poultry and fowl.

    Common Terms with "Foul" and "Fowl"

    Common terms with "foul":
    • foul smelling
    • foul play
    • to cry foul
    • to fall foul of
    Common terms with "fowl":
    • wild fowl
    • guinea fowl
    • water fowl

    Remembering "Fowl"

    Let the owl in "fowl" remind you that "fowl" is a bird.

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    See Also

    adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are nouns? List of easily confused words

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