meaning of “foul play”
“Foul play” is a phrase from shakespeare and refers to any treacherous or unfair dealing, especially when it involves murder. the police will often report a death as natural and say something like “no foul play is suspected.”
origin of the “dirty game”
“foul play” is a term shakespeare liked. he used it three times in his plays and, moreover, it seems that he was the first to use it in print or on stage.
Shakespeare uses “foul play” to refer to something treacherous, though not necessarily murder. he uses the phrase in three of his works.
- at the beginning of henry iv, part 1, sir walter blunt brings the king information about a rebellion. he says:
So has the business I’m here to talk about. lord mortimer of scotland has sent a message that douglas and the english rebels met on the eleventh of this month in shrewsbury, they are a powerful and fearsome head, if promises are kept in every way, as always they offer foul play . strong> in the state.
henry iv part 1, act 3, scene 2
2. In the prosperous storm he explains to his fifteen-year-old daughter, Miranda, how they came to be on the island:
prospero: twelve years ago, miranda, twelve years ago, your father was duke of milan, and a prince of power.
miranda: sir, aren’t you my father?
prosperous: your mother was a piece of virtue, and said you were my daughter: and your father was duke of milan, and his only heir and princess, not worse born.
miranda: oh my! what foul game did we have that we came from there? Or lucky we didn’t?
the tempest, act 1, scene 2
in pericles cleon and dionyza talk about covering up the apparent murder of pericles’ daughter:
cleon: If I were the main lord of this whole spacious world, I would give it to undo the deed. a lady far less in blood than in virtue, but a princess equal to any crown on earth in fairness to compare. O leonine villain, whom you have also poisoned! if you had drunk for him, it would have been a kindness that would do you good on his face. What can you say when the noble Pericles will claim his son?
dionyza: that she is dead. nurses are not destinations. fostering is never preserving. she died at night; I’ll tell who can cross it unless you play the godless innocent and, for an honest attribute, yell “she died of foul play!”
pericles, act 4, scene 3
foul play in sports
Competing in sport is a very serious business and great care is taken in all sports to ensure that everything is correct and that cheating is eliminated in actual play. the concept of a “foul”, an in-game action that breaks the rules in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage, was used in almost every sport. it started with basketball.
when dr. james naismith invented basketball, proposed 13 rules, which he published in 1892. naismith stipulated in a rule that “no shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or in any way hitting the person of an opponent shall be permitted.” these actions would be known as fouls.
a foul in football
in soccer, known to most of the world as “soccer”, one of the most interesting things in the area of fouls is the one unique to soccer, the “professional foul”, which is a carefully calculated foul that could benefit the team whose member commits the foul by breaking the rules to prevent an opponent from scoring.
A professional foul is the name given to an action in professional football in which a player on the defending team commits a deliberate foul against a player on the attacking side to prevent him from scoring or having a clear scoring opportunity.
The foul will result in a free kick or penalty for the other side which may result in less scoring chances than they would have if they had not been fouled. the player who commits the professional foul will have weighed whether he will end up being worth it. it may result in him being booked with a yellow or red card, but not losing the game may be the reward and it will have been worth it. the referee will also have to weigh the level of sanction that the fault deserves. very complicated!