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NAUTICAL SAYINGS FALL FOUL OF

Sunday March 22nd, 2009
ImageFALL FOUL OF
Again, this has nothing to do with the game of football in any form. Foul was an oft used nautical term to describe things that were considered awry. It began as a word to describe two ships colliding, something likely to cause damage to the vessels. A ‘foul anchor’ meant that the cable was tangled and a ‘foul bottom’ described a seabed where there was little if any provision for an anchor to grip. If a vessel’s hull was over run in barnacles it was described as a ‘fouled ship’. Eventually the term stretched to ‘foul up’ which meant to make a mistake through bad judgment and, logically, to ‘to fall foul of’ meaning to clash with another or fall out of favour with someone.
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