foil

You can serve as a foil to someone if you show them to be better than you by contrast. If you can't dance but your friend Lisa can, you can be a foil to Lisa's grace.

If you're having trouble remembering this definition, think about a shiny piece of tin foil. It reflects an image back to you, so if you're a foil to someone, their image is reflected off of you in a positive light. Your brother's mediocre grades might serve as a foil to your intelligence. As a verb, if you foil someone's plans or attempts to do something, you cause them to fail. Your brother will be really mad if you foil his plans to hide his mediocre report card from your parents.

PRIMARY MEANINGS OF: foil

1
v
hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of
2
nv
a piece of thin and flexible sheet metal
cover or back with foil
3
nv
anything that serves by contrast to call attention to another thing's good qualities
enhance by contrast
4
n
a light slender flexible sword tipped by a button
5
n
a device consisting of a flat or curved piece (as a metal plate) so that its surface reacts to the water it is passing through
FULL DEFINITIONS OF: foil
1

v hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of

foil your opponent”
Synonyms:
baffle, bilk, cross, frustrate, queer, scotch, spoil, thwart
Types:
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disappoint, let down
fail to meet the hopes or expectations of
dash
destroy or break
short-circuit
hamper the progress of; impede
ruin
destroy or cause to fail
betray, fail
disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake
come short, fall short
fail to meet (expectations or standards)
disenchant, disillusion
free from enchantment
undo
cause the ruin or downfall of
break
cause the failure or ruin of
shipwreck
ruin utterly
Type of:
forbid, foreclose, forestall, preclude, prevent
keep from happening or arising; make impossible
2

n a piece of thin and flexible sheet metal

“the photographic film was wrapped in foil
Types:
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aluminium foil, aluminum foil, tin foil
foil made of aluminum
chaff
foil in thin strips; ejected into the air as a radar countermeasure
gold foil
foil made of gold
tin foil, tinfoil
foil made of tin or an alloy of tin and lead
gold leaf
a very thin form of gold foil
Type of:
sheet metal
sheet of metal formed into a thin plate

v cover or back with foil

foil mirrors”
Type of:
cover
provide with a covering or cause to be covered
3

n anything that serves by contrast to call attention to another thing's good qualities

“pretty girls like plain friends as foils
Synonyms:
enhancer
Type of:
attention
a general interest that leads people to want to know more

n picture consisting of a positive photograph or drawing on a transparent base; viewed with a projector

Synonyms:
transparency
Types:
lantern slide, slide
a transparency mounted in a frame; viewed with a slide projector
overhead, viewgraph
a transparency for use with an overhead projector
Type of:
icon, ikon, image, picture
a visual representation (of an object or scene or person or abstraction) produced on a surface

v enhance by contrast

“In this picture, the figures are foiled against the background”
Type of:
contrast, counterpoint
to show differences when compared; be different
4

n a light slender flexible sword tipped by a button

Type of:
fencing sword
a sword used in the sport of fencing
5

n a device consisting of a flat or curved piece (as a metal plate) so that its surface reacts to the water it is passing through

Synonyms:
hydrofoil
Type of:
device
an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose
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