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1. To play or tinker with something, often in an aimless manner. Hey, don't fool around with the thermostat—it needs to stay at 68 degrees. Grandpa's still fooling around with that old radio, but I doubt he'll get it to work again.
2. To engage in aimless recreation or frivolous time-wasting. Quit fooling around with the dog and work on your book report already!
3. To have a casual sexual relationship with someone. Betsy and I are just fooling around, which is great because I don't want a serious relationship anyway.
4. To joke about something. Often used in the negative to indicate absolute seriousness. Oh, come on, Tina, we're just fooling around. We didn't mean it. You guys, Mom is not fooling around. She said she would ground us for a month if she caught us again.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
to waste time doing something unnecessary or doing something amateurishly. Stop fooling around and clean your room as I told you. I wish you didn't spend so much time fooling around.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Also, monkey around. Engage in idle or casual activity, putter. For example, Jim loved to fool around with his computer, or She was monkeying around with some figures in hopes of balancing the budget. [Second half of 1800s]
2. Engage in frivolous activity, waste time. For example, Instead of studying, he spends all his spare time fooling around. Also see fool away.
3. Engage in flirting or casual sexual acts; also, engage in adultery. For example, He caught the two teenagers fooling around in the basement. [1830s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. Slang To engage in frivolous activity; goof off: The children are fooling around in the yard.
2. Slang fool around with To manipulate or work with something without a clear purpose; toy with something: Who's been fooling around with my briefcase?
3. Vulgar Slang To engage in casual, often promiscuous sexual activity.
4. Vulgar Slang To be sexually unfaithful.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.