run afoul (transitive, intransitive, nautical) To become entangled or in conflict with. 1995, James Laurence Pelletier, Mariner's Employment Guide, page 514: Propellers can run afoul in heavy seaweed, and ships are said to be afoul when they collide. 1857, Thomas Jefferson Farnham, Life, Adventures, and Travels in California, page 407: At last we hove in sight of the Pacific, and run afoul one of those villainous head winds which you know often set into the west end of the Straits.
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