One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Any of various powdered or dust-like substances whose use or effect is considered to be evil or harmful, such as a drug in powder form, gold dust, gunpowder, asbestos dust, etc. Occasionally with the.
2Pulverized or shredded cloth which is produced from old rags using a devil and which is subsequently reformed into shoddy. Now historical and rare.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in John Ireland (c1742–1808), biographer. From the genitive of devil + dust.
devil's dust/ˈdɛvlz ˌdʌst/
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