Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A lack of good sense, understanding, or foresight.
  • n. An act or instance of foolishness: regretted the follies of his youth.
  • n. A costly undertaking having an absurd or ruinous outcome.
  • n. An elaborate theatrical revue consisting of music, dance, and skits.
  • n. Obsolete Perilously or criminally foolish action.
  • n. Obsolete Evil; wickedness.
  • n. Obsolete Lewdness; lasciviousness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Foolishness.
  • n. Thoughtless action resulting in tragic consequence.
  • n. A fanciful building built for purely ornamental reasons.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The state of being foolish; want of good sense; levity, weakness, or derangement of mind.
  • n. A foolish act; an inconsiderate or thoughtless procedure; weak or light-minded conduct; foolery.
  • n. Scandalous crime; sin; specifically, as applied to a woman, wantonness.
  • n. The result of a foolish action or enterprise.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The character or conduct of a fool; the state of being foolish; weakness of judgment or character, or actions which spring from it; want of understanding; weak or light-minded conduct.
  • n. Something regard for or attention to which is foolish.
  • n. Specifically Conduct morally bad; wickedness; wantonness.
  • n. A costly structure or other undertaking left unfinished for want of means, too expensive to be properly maintained, built in a very ill-chosen place, or the like; an enterprise that exhausts or ruins the projector.
  • n. Synonyms Nonsense, foolishness, senselessness, ridiculousness, extravagance, indiscretion, imbecility. See list under absurdity.
  • To act with folly; act foolishly.
  • Foolish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the quality of being rash and foolish
  • n. a stupid mistake
  • n. foolish or senseless behavior
  • n. the trait of acting stupidly or rashly

Etymologies

Middle English folie, from Old French, from fol, foolish, from Late Latin follis, windbag, fool; see fool.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French folie ("madness"), from the adjective fol ("mad, insane"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • III. i.75 (201,2) [But wise-men's folly fall'n] Sir Thomas Hammer reads, _folly shewn_.

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies

  • I. ii.23 (14,4) his valour is crushed into folly] To be _crushed into folly_, is to be _confused_ and mingled with _folly_, so as that they make one mass together.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies

  • And if any offer of alliance or parley of individual elders comes from home, the false spirits shut the gates of the castle and permit no one to enter, — there is a battle, and they gain the victory; and straightway making alliance with the desires, they banish modesty, which they call folly, and send temperance over the border.

    The Republic by Plato ; translated by Benjamin Jowett

  • He blamed himself for what he called the folly of the past weeks.

    Maurice Guest

  • Judasa said it would do everything in its power to try and convince Health Minster Nkosazana Zuma of what it called the folly of the plan.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Mrs. Lewis begged that Elma should not be taken away from her; and Mrs. Steward, angry with herself for what she termed her folly, had yet yielded to her sister's entreaties.

    Wild Kitty

  • "I'm afraid what you call my folly didn't avail, for they wanted what they saw in my portfolio."

    Tales of Trail and Town

  • Captain Gauley and Mat laughed at what they called the folly of Levi, and assured Bessie he would never find her.

    Freaks of Fortune or, Half Round the World

  • It cannot be said that he had not felt and secretly resented what he called the folly of the unreasonable old man.

    David Fleming's Forgiveness

  • ` Rather than spoil my uniform, I would have knocked him on the head with a pole, 'said a third; and it was a long time before what they termed my folly was forgotten or forgiven.

    Black Ivory

Comments

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  • What is life but a series of inspired follies?
    -Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw

    August 3, 2009