Foul or Fowl?

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What is the difference between foul and fowl?

Foul is an adjective used to describe something revolting or distasteful. Foul is also a noun to denote unfair play in sport.
  • In fair weather, you must prepare for foul weather. (Thomas Fuller)
  • "That was a foul, referee."
Fowl is a noun that refers to birds, namely gamefowl, landfowl, and waterfowl.
  • Many birds that are eaten by humans are fowl, including poultry such as chickens or turkeys.


The adjective foul describes something repulsive. In sport, the noun foul is a violation of the rules of the game.

  • It is better to use fair means and fail than foul means and conquer. (Sallust)
  • Golf is the only game I know where you call a foul on yourself. (Joe Torre)


The noun fowl describes birds. Fowl can be barnyard, domesticated, or wild birds.

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

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

What are adjectives? What are nouns? List of easily confused words

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