‘Foul’ and ‘fowl’

Here’s a faintly seasonal mix-up with an accompanying adorable picture.


  • offensive, obscene or vulgar; unpleasant
  • foul smelling or dirty; full of dirt or offensive matter
  • evil, wicked or immoral
  • bad tempered, cross or irritable
  • unfair or dishonorable; against the rules of a sport
  • to make dirty or polluted; to spoil or damage
  • to come into conflict with (‘fall foul of’)


  • a domesticated bird such as a chicken
  • a bird raised or kept for food, or hunted as game
  • the meat of fowl
  • a bird; a collective term for birds

Ducklings are fowl and not foul. (Although, like all baby things, they are full of offensive matter that will go everywhere. And it stains. So I think that illustrates foul/fowl is a matter of perspective.)