Words related to foul
yellowish-white inflammatory exudation, consisting of white blood cells, etc., produced by suppuration, late 14c., from Latin pus "pus, matter from a sore;" figuratively "bitterness, malice" (related to puter "rotten" and putere "to stink"), from PIE *pu- (2) "to rot, decay" (source also of Sanskrit puyati "rots, stinks," putih "stinking, foul, rotten;" Greek puon "discharge from a sore," pythein "to cause to rot;" Lithuanian pūvu, pūti "to rot;" Gothic fuls, Old English ful "foul"), perhaps originally echoic of a natural exclamation of disgust.
The formation of pus is called suppuration. A collection of pus within the solid tissues is called an abscess. A suppurating open sore is an ulcer. [Century Dictionary]
Old English fæger "pleasing to the sight (of persons and body features, also of objects, places, etc.); beautiful, handsome, attractive," of weather, "bright, clear, pleasant; not rainy," also in late Old English "morally good," from Proto-Germanic *fagraz (source also of Old Saxon fagar, Old Norse fagr, Swedish fager, Old High German fagar "beautiful," Gothic fagrs "fit"), perhaps from PIE *pek- (1) "to make pretty" (source also of Lithuanian puošiu "I decorate").
The meaning in reference to weather preserves the oldest sense "suitable, agreeable" (opposed to foul (adj.)). Of the main modern senses of the word, that of "light of complexion or color of hair and eyes, not dusky or sallow" (of persons) is from c. 1200, faire, contrasted to browne and reflecting tastes in beauty. From early 13c. as "according with propriety; according with justice," hence "equitable, impartial, just, free from bias" (mid-14c.).
Of wind, "not excessive; favorable for a ship's passage," from late 14c. Of handwriting from 1690s. From c. 1300 as "promising good fortune, auspicious." Also from c. 1300 as "above average, considerable, sizable." From 1860 as "comparatively good."
The sporting senses (fair ball, fair catch, etc.) began to appear in 1856. Fair play is from 1590s but not originally in sports (earlier it meant "pleasant amusement," c. 1300, and foul play was "sinful amusement"). Fair-haired in the figurative sense of "darling, favorite" is from 1909. First record of fair-weather friends is from 1736 (in a letter from Pope published that year, written in 1730). The fair sex "women" is from 1660s, from the "beautiful" sense (fair as a noun meaning "a woman" is from early 15c.). Fair game "legitimate target" is from 1776, from hunting.
Others, who have not gone to such a height of audacious wickedness, have yet considered common prostitutes as fair game, which they might pursue without restraint. ["Advice from a Father to a Son, Just Entered into the Army and about to Go Abroad into Action," London, 1776]
c. 1400, "to desecrate, profane;" mid-15c., "to make foul or dirty," also "to rape, deflower," alteration of earlier defoulen, from Old French defouler "trample down, violate," also "ill-treat, dishonor," from de- "down" (see de-) + foler "to tread," from Latin fullo "person who cleans and thickens cloth by stamping on it" (see foil (v.1)).
The alteration (or re-formation) in English is from influence of Middle English filen (v.) "to render foul; make unclean or impure," literal and figurative, from Old English fylen (trans.), related to Old English fulian (intrans.) "to become foul, rot," from the source of foul (adj.). Compare befoul, which also had a parallel form befilen. Related: Defiled; defiling.
Old English fylð "uncleanness, impurity, foulness," from Proto-Germanic *fulitho (source also of Old Saxon fulitha "foulness, filth," Dutch vuilte, Old High German fulida), noun derivative of *fulo- "foul" (see foul (adj.)). A classic case of i-mutation.
"long grass, second growth of grass after mowing," late 14c., probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian fogg "long grass in a moist hollow," Icelandic fuki "rotten sea grass." A connection to fog (n.1) via a notion of long grass growing in moist dells of northern Europe is tempting but not proven. Watkins suggests derivation from PIE *pu- (2) "to rot, decay" (see foul (adj.)).