How to use the word “fool” in English


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April 1 is an informal holiday known as April Fools’ Day! People celebrate by playing jokes and trying to trick people in funny and harmless ways.

You might be wondering about this word “fool” – how is it used in English? I’ll teach you all about it in today’s lesson.

First let’s work on the pronunciation – fool has an oo sound, the same as in food and rude. It’s different from the word full, which has an “uh” sound, the same as in pull. It’s a very small difference – fool, full.

Fool is both a noun and a verb. As a verb, it means to deceive or trick someone; to make them believe something that isn’t true. For example, sometimes kids pretend to be sick in order to fool their parents into letting them stay home from school.

It’s also common to say when someone attempts deception, but they’re “not fooling anybody” – their deception isn’t working. For example, a woman who wears big fake diamond jewelry, but is always asking her friends for money. She’s pretending to be rich, but she’s not fooling anybody – it’s obvious she’s not really rich.

So the verb fool means to deceive or trick someone. The word fool as a noun refers to a person who doesn’t have good judgment, is rather stupid, and does things that are not wise. For example, a guy who buys a new car and immediately drives too fast and crashes it into a tree. He could be described as a fool.

Note: Calling someone a fool is similar to calling the person an idiot; it is an insult and would be considered offensive, so be careful about applying this label to people.

We also have the adjective foolish to describe things that lack good sense or good judgment. For example, he made the foolish decision to drop out of college in his final semester, with $100,000 of student loan debt. That decision was not very smart!

Finally there’s the phrasal verb fool around. This has a couple of different meanings, and we understand which one is being used depending on the context.

One meaning is to act casual and silly, not being serious or productive. If all your co-workers are chatting about last night’s sports game and showing each other vacation pictures, your manager might say “Stop fooling around and get to work!”

Another meaning, when we say someone was fooling around with someone else, means to have casual sexual activity (often with someone who is not the main romantic partner). For example, Sally divorced her husband Joe because he was fooling around with a woman he met at the gym. This means Joe was having a casual sexual relationship with the other woman.

So that’s our overview of the word fool:

fool (v.) means to deceive or trick someone
fool (n.) refers to a stupid person without good sense
foolish (adj.) describe things that lack good sense/judgment
fool around (v.) can mean to act casual and silly, or to have a casual sexual relationship

 

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