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From Middle English folehardy, foolhardi, folherdi, from Old French fol hardi (foolishly bold), from Old French fol (foolish, silly; insane, mad) (from Latin follis (bellows; purse, sack; inflated ball; belly, paunch), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰelǵʰ- (to swell)) + Old French hardi (durable, hardy, tough) (past tense of hardir (to harden), from the unattested Frankish *hartjan, from Proto-Germanic *harduz (hard; brave)), equivalent to fool +‎ hardy. Compare fool-bold, fool-large, etc.



foolhardy (comparative foolhardier or more foolhardy, superlative foolhardiest or most foolhardy)

  1. Marked by unthinking recklessness with disregard for danger; boldly rash; hotheaded.
    • 1876, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter VI, in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Hartford, Conn.: The American Publishing Company, OCLC 1000326417, page 68:
      The master's pulse stood still, and he stared helplessly. The buzz of study ceased. The pupils wondered if this fool-hardy boy had lost his mind.
    • 2000, Bill Bryson, chapter 1, in In a Sunburned Country, 1st US edition, New York, N.Y.: Broadway Books, →ISBN, page 14:
      In the middle distance several foolhardy souls in wet suits were surfing toward some foamy outbursts on the rocky headland; nearer in, a scattering of paddlers was being continually and, it seemed, happily engulfed by explosive waves.
    • 2017 March 26, “The Observer view on triggering article 50: As Britain hurtles towards the precipice, truth and democracy are in short supply”, in The Observer[1], London, archived from the original on 30 August 2017:
      It is a reckless, foolhardy leap into the unknown and the prelude, perhaps, to what the existentialist writer Albert Camus described in La chute – a fall from grace, in every conceivable sense.


Derived terms[edit]



foolhardy (plural foolhardies)

  1. A person who is foolhardy.
    • 1977, Rolf R. Mueller, Festival and Fiction in Heinrich Wittenwiler's Ring (page 26)
      Resentful of the saddle-fast stranger, eight foolhardies return for more adventure.
    • 2019, Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys
      Some foolhardies in the schoolhouse laughed at him then and Griff stuck their heads into toilets, one by one over the next week.

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of folehardy