FOIA = Freedom of Information Act (federal U.S. law)

FOIL = Freedom of Information Law (New York State)

From this, I have frequently heard and read FOIL used as a verb, by journalists and ordinary well-educated people, for example:

I FOILed them for such-and-so information.

What do people say in other states?

  • 3
    If I see "FOIL," I'm expecting to multiply binomials. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 0:31
  • @ruakh - I put in a clarification. Thanks for asking. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 0:37
  • I live in Michigan and have not heard this usage before. Like @SomethingDark said in the comments, "If I see 'FOIL,' I'm expecting to multiply binomials." I am about to study as a journalist at Michigan State University and have yet to hear this. Sorry if I wasn't much help! Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 0:50
  • 2
    I'd classify that as jargon- used only by people in-the-know. I suppose those people could reside anywhere, but I'm definitely not one of them.
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 1:28
  • 1
    When the villainous bad guys get thwarted because their secrets are revealed do they say: "Curses! FOILed again!" Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 4:02

2 Answers 2


suggest use just F.O.I. (FOI-ed as verb) last letter unnecessary here Ontario, Canada. No matter where you go Freedom of Information legislation means "restriction of public access to govt activities"

  • Help me understand why you say restriction. I thought it was the other way around? That FOI laws help members of the public GET access to govt docs and activities? Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 5:29

I can't remember how I learned this, maybe I posted on Law SE, but anyway, it turns out the answer is

I FOIAed [or foiaed] them.

It works better in spoken language than written. If one needs something formal there's

I filed a FOIA request.

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