I'd like to compare these two words in terms of meaning and usage.It seems like they mostly overlap to me but there are possible subtle differences.

I tried to give as many example as to discern the difference. Do you think the meaning of the sentences would change if I swap the words each other in the following sentences.

To foray into means

a short period of time being involved in an activity that is different from and outside the range of a usual set of activities

She made a brief foray into acting before becoming a teacher


After a brief foray into politics, she returned to where she is most comfortable - in the company of words.


Anna’s forays into cooking were never very successful.


To dabble in means

to try something or take part in an activity in a way that is not serious

He first dabbled in politics when he was at law school.


It's astounding that, at 24 years of age, the stand-up comic has already dabbled in more professions than most people attempt in a lifetime.


When he was younger he dabbled in astrology.


2 Answers 2


The two words have quite different senses of purpose and intensity.

  • The original (and still core) meanng of dabble is transitive: to get something wet by splashing or casual movement. You dabble your fingers in a fingerbowl to clean them. It implies little effort or seriousness. One who 'dabbles' in art is an amateur, not an artist.

  • The original (and still core) meaning of foray is a "raid": a sudden, swift, violent attack to carry off plunder. To make a foray into politics is to swoop unexpectedly into an election, hoping to win because your opponents are surprised and disorganized, or at least to gain attention and publicity for your longer-term efforts.

    Note that foray is not ordinarily used as a verb.


Like you wrote, foray is to engage in an activity that is outside of one's given set of skills while dabble is more superficial, like dipping one's toes.

I dabbled in piano = i know how to push the keys but didnt go further.

After my foray into piano, i know how to reproduce a simple melody

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