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.

Definitions of foil
  1. verb
    hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of
    foil your opponent”
    synonyms: baffle, bilk, confound, cross, frustrate, queer, scotch, scuttle, spoil, thwart
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    disappoint, let down
    fail to meet the hopes or expectations of
    destroy or break
    hamper the progress of; impede
    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
    cause the ruin or downfall of
    cause the failure or ruin of
    ruin utterly
    type of:
    forbid, foreclose, forestall, preclude, preempt, prevent
    keep from happening or arising; make impossible
  2. noun
    a piece of thin and flexible sheet metal
    “the photographic film was wrapped in foil
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    aluminium foil, aluminum foil, tin foil
    foil made of aluminum
    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
  3. verb
    cover or back with foil
    foil mirrors”
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    type of:
    provide with a covering or cause to be covered
  4. noun
    anything that serves by contrast to call attention to another thing's good qualities
    synonyms: enhancer
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    type of:
    a general interest that leads people to want to know more
  5. noun
    picture consisting of a positive photograph or drawing on a transparent base; viewed with a projector
    synonyms: transparency
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    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
  6. verb
    enhance by contrast
    “In this picture, the figures are foiled against the background”
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    type of:
    contrast, counterpoint
    show differences when compared; be different
  7. noun
    a light slender flexible sword tipped by a button
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    type of:
    fencing sword
    a sword used in the sport of fencing
  8. noun
    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
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    type of:
    an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose
Word Family

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