As The Merriam Dictionary says it means to to get into trouble because of failing to do what is required by (the law, a rule, etc.) For example:
After leaving school she fell foul of the law and spent time in jail.
I have been trying to find something on its origin on the internet, but I cannot find anything. To me as a non-native english speaker the phrase sounds so odd that I am desperate to find out its origin.
According to An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English the expression has a nautical origin meaning become entangled.
When one ship impedes the progress of another; it falls foul of it. A foul anchor is when its own rope becomes entangled with itself.
and the AHD lists the following meanings:
- Nautical To collide. Used of vessels.
- To clash: fell foul of the law.
From the following sense of foul:
Meaning "become entangled" (chiefly nautical) is from 1832, probably from foul (adj.) in the sense "obstructed by anything fixed or attached" (late 15c.).
Source : Link , Question Author : Dmytro O’Hope , Answer Author : user 66974