Definition of dirt in English:



mass noun
  • 1A substance, such as mud or dust, that soils someone or something.

    ‘Jo wiped the dirt off her face’
    • ‘The inside needs to be free from dust bunnies, dirt, gravel, and pet dander - even if you end up buying a furry case.’
    • ‘"Oh, Chris, " Lorna said, brushing dirt off her pants.’
    • ‘Another tear escapes, tracing clean a second path through the accumulated dirt on his face.’
    • ‘The jeans had been stretched to the limit and were covered in dirt and dust, not to mention her top, which was in the same condition.’
    • ‘Blackened and degraded by centuries of dust and dirt, they emerged in a remarkable state of preservation that gives an excellent idea of their intended flamboyance.’
    • ‘The textile cover protects the car against dirt, dust and sunlight, among other things, until the cover is removed.’
    • ‘Looking closer, she saw that he bore the Seal of Royalty, covered mostly by dirt and dust from the long journey.’
    • ‘I looked down at my clothes and saw that my dark green shirt was covered with dirt and dust as well as my long dark green skirt.’
    • ‘Altair picked himself up from the ground, brushing the dirt from his coat.’
    • ‘A gray tarp, ragged and covered with dry, caked dirt fell open in her hands.’
    • ‘And these items are all covered in dust and dirt from the construction, and now sit on my windowsill.’
    • ‘Three and a half months worth of dust, dirt and sand needs to be shaken from our tents, the van and rucksacks.’
    • ‘He told me quietly as he bent down to brush some dirt off his pants.’
    • ‘The mile ended and the eight were covered in red dirt and breathing heavily.’
    • ‘I was fully dressed, my pants stained brown with dirt and dust.’
    • ‘His face was rather dirty, his nose smudged with dust and dirt, but he looked like he was enjoying himself nonetheless.’
    • ‘"Thanks doll face, " I said with a grin before wiping some dirt off my pants.’
    • ‘The boy hesitated, wiping the dirt on his face.’
    • ‘The use of polythene cover protects it from wear and tear, dirt and dust, moisture and stains etc., and also avoids too much folding of the pages.’
    • ‘He wiped the red dirt from his face and struggled to catch his breath.’
    grime, dust, soot, smut
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    1. 1.1 Soil or earth.
      ‘Michael threw a handful of dirt on to the coffin’
      as modifier ‘a dirt road’
      • ‘Install a polyethylene vapor retarder, or equivalent material, over the dirt floor.’
      • ‘It's a place of dirt roads and galvanised iron shacks.’
      • ‘Before the arrival of the railways in 1850, travel in India meant months of struggle over primitive dirt roads.’
      • ‘The short six-mile loop offers stretches of dirt road for passing and technical singletrack that runs along cliff edges.’
      • ‘It's possible you could take this dirt road and eventually end up on Interstate 95 or U.S. route 1.’
      • ‘The 108-mile dirt road from Buchanan to Greenville has been upgraded to a four-lane highway allowing logging to continue every day of the year.’
      • ‘There's this dirt road that is in almost every dream I have.’
      • ‘That is up to 5,000 illegal aliens a year who must first cross this rugged border in the hills and then they must sneak across this dirt road.’
      • ‘He let her into a very ugly cell, with dirt for the ground.’
      • ‘Larry wanted to give me a tour of his ranch, so we talked in his pickup, lurching down rutted dirt roads.’
      • ‘We had walkie-talkies to ensure that nobody got lost on the long journeys down dirt roads between preaching engagements.’
      • ‘California Highway Patrol and National Park Service helicopters spotted at least eight other vehicles off highways and dirt roads.’
      • ‘Empty cans, old rags and stained wet paper littered the uneven dirt floor.’
      • ‘The dirt road down to the river passed by some clay banks.’
      • ‘Brittany led Caleb and I down the dirt path and through the broken fence.’
      • ‘Motorists leave huge clouds of dust behind them as they drive along the village's narrow dirt roads in the dry season.’
      • ‘I pointed along a narrow dirt path that branched off the main access road.’
      • ‘Ten to 12 hour trips on dirt roads in 4WDs or trucks are unheard of.’
      • ‘As the trees lessened, Zeke and Jon reached the dirt path and stopped.’
      • ‘‘Once you're outside the capital it's all dirt roads and most houses don't have electricity,’ he said.’
      earth, soil, loam, clay, silt
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    2. 1.2informal Excrement.
      ‘a lawn covered in dog dirt’
      • ‘There are scenes with me cleaning up dog dirt in my glittering boots!’
      • ‘I haven't forgotten my roots in Glasgow, with the dingy tenements and the grass full of dog dirt, and there are parts of Middlesbrough which look as if they belong to the Dark Ages.’
      • ‘There was dog dirt smeared on the slides and the floor.’
      • ‘Local politics are about refuse collection and dog dirt, not the war with Iraq.’
      • ‘The women said that they had intended to remove the dog dirt but felt frightened and shaken by the demand.’
      • ‘The 19 year-old says she has to negotiate mounds of dog dirt whenever she visits Cliffe Castle with her toddler, Rosie.’
      • ‘And broken vodka bottles, condoms, dog dirt and human excrement have turned the area into a menacing health hazard.’
      • ‘South Lakeland District Council actually plans to consult voters on whether they are prepared to pay more council tax to remove dog dirt from the district's pavements.’
      • ‘Dog dirt does not have to be fresh to be infective.’
      • ‘Bags filled with rubbish, permanently fixed rat traps and mounds of dog dirt are not sights you would want to see just metres away from Skipton High Street.’
      • ‘Listening to some people, Skipton is ‘not what it used to be’; it's a dirty, badly run, untidy town full of dog dirt.’
      • ‘Acorn Rugby Club has tried to cut down possible injuries to players by building a fence to keep the playing area free from broken glass, needless dog dirt and people's rubbish.’
      • ‘Questions will be asked about the validity of some of the issues, such as people being asked to sniff and record traces of urine and count the amount of dog dirt.’
      • ‘Now I know that in the parks around Islington, north London, dog dirt is a menace, but the countryside is almost entirely carpeted with excrement.’
      • ‘Always pick up dog dirt and dispose of it sensibly’
      • ‘I can vouch there is more dog dirt in Renaissance Florence than the pathways around Windermere and Ambleside - and that takes some beating.’
      • ‘We have watched people - mainly adults - pick up dog dirt in a polythene bag and then when they think nobody is looking just throw it down.’
      • ‘Along the route I noticed 4 separate lots of dog dirt fouling the pavement.’
      • ‘And it wants to remind dog owners that it is an offence not to clear up after their pets and dog dirt is dangerous for children who may come into contact with it.’
      • ‘As well as the majority of streetlights not working, it is still deeply unpleasant due mainly to being overgrown, as well as being persistently covered with litter and dog dirt.’
      excrement, excreta, droppings, faeces, dung, manure, ordure
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    3. 1.3 A state or quality of uncleanliness.
      ‘the sweat and dirt of industry’
      • ‘The very name Grimethorpe conjures up an picture of dirt, decay and desolation.’
      • ‘A sense, too, of something ancient and enduring that had managed to survive the poverty and dirt.’
      • ‘The dirt and disorder at the café bothered David almost more than his own problems.’
      • ‘The dirt and the filthiness of the city and its open drains nauseate her.’
      • ‘Sharp, clever and prickly, Gwendolen reads the days away, oblivious to dirt and decay.’
      • ‘He also shows the underbelly of the city: its violence, flesh for hire, and atmosphere of poverty, dirt, and decay.’
      • ‘There is dirt and poverty all around, but the richness in the lives of these people, if different to that which Westerners broadly value, is undeniable.’
      • ‘A visitor to the city just now would still have some impression of dirt and decay.’
      • ‘The dirt and grime of industrial toil has been largely replaced by white-collar jobs.’
      • ‘The facade is more than adequate, and the harsh reality of poverty and dirt all but invisible unless you take a wrong turn.’
      • ‘SIR - Being born and bred in Bradford I am ashamed of the levels of dirt and filthiness in the Bradford 3 area.’
      • ‘What point is there in spending a fortune in promoting Scotland as a country to visit and to do business in when the first impression is one of third-world dirt and squalor.’
      • ‘Last year we lost 10 marks for litter, weeds and general overall impression of dirt and neglect.’
      • ‘They didn't mention the monuments they'd seen or complain about the chaos and dirt.’
      • ‘The dirt and squalor and laziness in the country are beyond words.’
      • ‘A week later, it was a functioning hospital, an island of cleanliness and sanity in a sea of decay and dirt.’
      dirtiness, squalidness, filth, filthiness, grubbiness, grime, griminess, muck, muckiness, slumminess, foulness, vileness, poverty, wretchedness, dinginess, meanness, nastiness, seediness, shabbiness, sordidness, sleaziness, insalubrity, slovenliness, repulsiveness
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  • 2informal Information about someone's activities or private life that could prove damaging if revealed.

    ‘is there any dirt on Desmond?’
    • ‘I don't know much about Garner, but I take it as a good sign that The Guardian has utterly failed to come up with any dirt on him.’
    • ‘The first two were definite push polls. the first one was trying to dish dirt on a candidate for governor in North Carolina.’
    • ‘In the novel Stark assigns narrator Jack Burden the task of uncovering dirt on the universally admired Judge Monty Irwin.’
    • ‘‘There is an expectation that somebody, somewhere has got some dirt on him,’ said one senior MP menacingly.’
    • ‘In the age of Drudge and various anti-Drudges, if you have dirt on a political opponent, you make sure it gets out.’
    • ‘Readers need some information quickly - dirt on candidates before Election Day, for instance.’
    • ‘He gives us some behind the scenes dirt on all these contestants.’
    • ‘But they got away with it, including the distribution to the press of dirt on Dr. King, picked up by secret FBI photo and wiretap.’
    • ‘As you sidle up close you can hear voices swapping art world gossip, platitudes and dirt on various celebs, institutions and artists.’
    • ‘Pam gives the inside dirt on parliament and it's not pretty.’
    • ‘Read up to find dirt on opponents; if there's nothing in the gossip pages, find weaknesses in their game.’
    • ‘Their political ploy is to deny knowledge of all accusations and try to throw dirt on their opposition hoping to deflect the media attention.’
    • ‘She was merely retelling facts to me as I prodded her to give me dirt on all the celebs she had met whilst working in the UK.’
    • ‘He has got on the public record a senior staffer saying that he spends his time, he occupies his time, digging dirt on me.’
    • ‘Nixon wanted dirt on Ellsberg, so his men dispatched a ham-fisted outfit to Los Angeles to see what Fielding had.’
    • ‘Truth is that some news agencies can't wait to get dirt on the military so they can embarrass the Bush administration.’
    • ‘But his opponents are reported to be digging for dirt on the actor, who has faced claims about his private life in the past.’
    • ‘Well, I'll dig up more dirt on you, or I'll lie and say you did something really bad.’
    • ‘It is situations like this that provide unwarranted dirt on local promoters, partygoers and the scene in general.’
    • ‘Anyway, Helen doesn't need to dig up dirt on the Maori party.’
    scandal, gossip, talk, revelations, rumour, rumours, tittle-tattle, tattle
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  • do someone dirt (also do dirt to)

    • informal Harm someone's reputation maliciously.

      • ‘In a recent picture the leading lady tried to do me dirt exactly in this manner.’
      • ‘Indeed, I am often madder at the critics who are trying to be kind than to those obviously out to do me dirt.’
      • ‘Even as specific tests for various hereditary disease are developed, there is little chance anyone could access the results to do you dirt.’
      • ‘Even as hard as Omar pushed us all, we knew he would never do us dirt; the result was tremendous overwhelming loyalty.’
      • ‘It is nothing more than the two men who did you dirt.’
      • ‘As a rule of thumb, it is safe to assume that your subordinates, peers and superiors do not lie awake at night thinking up ways to do you dirt.’
      • ‘The desire is all too common to get even with those who do us dirt, those who get ahead of us and those who hate us.’
      • ‘You never know if the guy you slam today will be in a position to do you dirt tomorrow.’
      • ‘She wanted to do her dirt and not get punished.’
      • ‘The developer did us dirt, but we are just fine now.’
  • drag the name of someone (or something) through the dirt

    • informal Give someone or something a bad reputation through bad behaviour or damaging revelations.

      • ‘He dragged my name through the dirt for no reason.’
      • ‘As commanding officer of the Scots Guards he told a pack of lies about Peter's murder and dragged his name through the dirt.’
      • ‘For her beliefs, angry mobs harassed her, hung her in effigy, and dragged her image through the streets, while the press dragged her name through the mud.’
  • eat dirt

    • informal Suffer insults or humiliation.

      ‘the film bombed at the box office and the critics made it eat dirt’
      • ‘I'd be eating dirt if I just played in a band all the time.’
      • ‘Any government, any business, any individual who does not align himself with this undisputable reality will eat dirt.’
      • ‘When it came to the ‘A’ Final and a head-to-head with yours truly, he made a jet-propelled getaway and left me eating dirt.’
      • ‘I think I got the laws of physics a bit wrong and I was eating dirt!’
      • ‘You can be rational and still find yourself eating dirt.’
      • ‘The system forces the domestics to eat dirt for two years in hopes of getting into the country.’
      • ‘But I couldn't stop because there was a part deep down inside of me, a voice in the back of my head that sounded remotely like my high pitched 10-year-old self that screamed at me to catch her and make her eat dirt.’
      • ‘Considering he failed in a bid to become manager of Crawley Town shortly before arriving at Tynecastle, he can hardly be blamed for eating dirt at present.’
      • ‘Down in the garage, the Maranello worker bees buzz about tinkering with the F2002 model, which left the competition eating dirt, and fine-tuning an updated F2003 version which promises more of the same.’
      • ‘I'm guessing this is what the author wanted her to do, just prostrate herself and eat dirt.’
  • treat someone like dirt

    • Treat someone with a complete lack of respect.

      • ‘And despite my having done nothing to deserve it, the last couple of years he started treating me like dirt.’
      • ‘I can guess how it feels when you wish you didn't have to smoke and for all your good intentions to give up, everyone treats you like dirt anyway.’
      • ‘People below you are treated like dirt and the people above you, you grovel to.’
      • ‘In human terms, they may be the salt of the earth, but the corporate-driven system commonly treats them like dirt.’
      • ‘Is it right that you can improve your lifestyle by ripping someone off and treating them like dirt?’
      • ‘And the people who were supposed to be concerned about me, had both treated me like dirt.’
      • ‘One said: ‘She's got to get rid of him - he's got no respect for her and treats her like dirt.’’
      • ‘We have to be back in our rooms by nine p.m., the food is awful and the warden treats us like dirt.’
      • ‘I think I accused John of driving him away and treating him like dirt.’
      • ‘But what really strikes me about those people who have housekeepers, nannies, cleaners, gardeners and so on is how they boss them about, treat them like dirt and then complain about them.’


Middle English: from Old Norse drit ‘excrement’, an early sense in English.