befoul

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

be- +‎ foul

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

befoul (third-person singular simple present befouls, present participle befouling, simple past and past participle befouled)

  1. To make foul; to soil; to contaminate, pollute.
    • 1846, Charles Dickens, Pictures from Italy, London: for the author, “Avignon to Genoa,” p. 34,[1]
      These heights are a desirable retreat, for less picturesque reasons—as an escape from a compound of vile smells perpetually arising from a great harbour full of stagnant water, and befouled by the refuse of innumerable ships with all sorts of cargoes: which, in hot weather, is dreadful in the last degree.
    • 1897, Robert Gwynneddon Davies (translator), The Sleeping Bard by Ellis Wynne, London: Simplkon, Marshall & Co., Part I,[2]
      At last, what with a round of blasphemy, and the whole crowd with clay pistols belching smoke and fire and slander of their neighbours, and the floor already befouled with dregs and spittle, I feared lest viler deeds should happen, and craved to depart.
    • 1983, Mary Stewart, The Wicked Day, New York: William Morrow, Chapter 5, p. 53,[3]
      Only the four walls of his home still stood, blackened and smoking with the sluggish, stinking smoke that befouled the sea-wind.
    • 1997, Ted Hughes, Tales from Ovid, “Echo and Narcissus” in Paul Keegan (ed.), Ted Hughes: Collected Poems, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003, p. 919,[4]
      There was a pool of perfect water.
      [] No cattle
      Had slobbered their muzzles in it
      And befouled it.
  2. (specifically) To defecate on, to soil with excrement.
    • 1666, George Alsop, A Character of the Province of Mary-Land, London: Peter Dring, Preface,[5]
      For its an ill Bird will befoule her own Nest []
    • 1748, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, London: J. Osborn, Volume I, Chapter 12, p. 91,[6]
      [] But pray what smell is that? Sure your lapdog has befoul’d himself;—let me catch hold of the nasty cur, I’ll teach him better manners.”
  3. (figuratively) To stain or mar (for example with infamy or disgrace).
    • 1894, Hall Caine, The Manxman, London: Heinemann, Part 5, p. 282,[7]
      For three days Pete bore himself according to his wont, thinking to silence the evil tongues of the little world about him, and keep sweet and alive the dear name which they were waiting to befoul and destroy.
    • 1923, James Branch Cabell, The High Place, London: John Lane, Part 2, Chapter 15,[8]
      [] you combine a vulgar atheism and an iconoclastic desire to befoul the sacred ideas of the average man or woman, collectively scorned as the bourgeoisie——”
    • 1927, Frances Noyes Hart, The Bellamy Trial, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1929, Chapter 5, p. 159,[9]
      There she sits before you, gentlemen, betrayed by her husband, befouled by every idle tongue that wags []
  4. To entangle or run against so as to impede motion. (The addition of quotations indicative of this usage is being sought):

Synonyms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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