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 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.’
    • ‘The inside needs to be free from dust bunnies, dirt, gravel, and pet dander - even if you end up buying a furry case.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His face was rather dirty, his nose smudged with dust and dirt, but he looked like he was enjoying himself nonetheless.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He told me quietly as he bent down to brush some dirt off his pants.’
    • ‘Looking closer, she saw that he bore the Seal of Royalty, covered mostly by dirt and dust from the long journey.’
    • ‘Altair picked himself up from the ground, brushing the dirt from his coat.’
    • ‘"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 textile cover protects the car against dirt, dust and sunlight, among other things, until the cover is removed.’
    • ‘Three and a half months worth of dust, dirt and sand needs to be shaken from our tents, the van and rucksacks.’
    • ‘The boy hesitated, wiping the 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.’
    • ‘He wiped the red dirt from his face and struggled to catch his breath.’
    • ‘A gray tarp, ragged and covered with dry, caked dirt fell open in her hands.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘"Thanks doll face, " I said with a grin before wiping some dirt off my pants.’
    • ‘And these items are all covered in dust and dirt from the construction, and now sit on my windowsill.’
    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’
      • ‘It's a place of dirt roads and galvanised iron shacks.’
      • ‘Ten to 12 hour trips on dirt roads in 4WDs or trucks are unheard of.’
      • ‘‘Once you're outside the capital it's all dirt roads and most houses don't have electricity,’ he said.’
      • ‘Motorists leave huge clouds of dust behind them as they drive along the village's narrow dirt roads in the dry season.’
      • ‘The short six-mile loop offers stretches of dirt road for passing and technical singletrack that runs along cliff edges.’
      • ‘Brittany led Caleb and I down the dirt path and through the broken fence.’
      • ‘Empty cans, old rags and stained wet paper littered the uneven dirt floor.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Before the arrival of the railways in 1850, travel in India meant months of struggle over primitive dirt roads.’
      • ‘Larry wanted to give me a tour of his ranch, so we talked in his pickup, lurching down rutted dirt roads.’
      • ‘The dirt road down to the river passed by some clay banks.’
      • ‘We had walkie-talkies to ensure that nobody got lost on the long journeys down dirt roads between preaching engagements.’
      • ‘He let her into a very ugly cell, with dirt for the ground.’
      • ‘It's possible you could take this dirt road and eventually end up on Interstate 95 or U.S. route 1.’
      • ‘There's this dirt road that is in almost every dream I have.’
      • ‘As the trees lessened, Zeke and Jon reached the dirt path and stopped.’
      • ‘I pointed along a narrow dirt path that branched off the main access road.’
      • ‘California Highway Patrol and National Park Service helicopters spotted at least eight other vehicles off highways and dirt roads.’
      • ‘Install a polyethylene vapor retarder, or equivalent material, over the dirt floor.’
      • ‘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.’
      earth, soil, loam, clay, silt
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    2. 1.2informal Excrement.
      ‘a lawn covered in dog dirt’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Always pick up dog dirt and dispose of it sensibly’
      • ‘The 19 year-old says she has to negotiate mounds of dog dirt whenever she visits Cliffe Castle with her toddler, Rosie.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Listening to some people, Skipton is ‘not what it used to be’; it's a dirty, badly run, untidy town full of dog dirt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I can vouch there is more dog dirt in Renaissance Florence than the pathways around Windermere and Ambleside - and that takes some beating.’
      • ‘Dog dirt does not have to be fresh to be infective.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are scenes with me cleaning up dog dirt in my glittering boots!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Along the route I noticed 4 separate lots of dog dirt fouling the pavement.’
      • ‘And broken vodka bottles, condoms, dog dirt and human excrement have turned the area into a menacing health hazard.’
      • ‘There was dog dirt smeared on the slides and the floor.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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 dirt and grime of industrial toil has been largely replaced by white-collar jobs.’
      • ‘A week later, it was a functioning hospital, an island of cleanliness and sanity in a sea of decay and dirt.’
      • ‘Sharp, clever and prickly, Gwendolen reads the days away, oblivious to 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.’
      • ‘He also shows the underbelly of the city: its violence, flesh for hire, and atmosphere of poverty, dirt, and decay.’
      • ‘The dirt and the filthiness of the city and its open drains nauseate her.’
      • ‘The dirt and squalor and laziness in the country are beyond words.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A sense, too, of something ancient and enduring that had managed to survive the poverty and dirt.’
      • ‘SIR - Being born and bred in Bradford I am ashamed of the levels of dirt and filthiness in the Bradford 3 area.’
      • ‘The dirt and disorder at the café bothered David almost more than his own problems.’
      • ‘The very name Grimethorpe conjures up an picture of dirt, decay and desolation.’
      • ‘The facade is more than adequate, and the harsh reality of poverty and dirt all but invisible unless you take a wrong turn.’
      • ‘They didn't mention the monuments they'd seen or complain about the chaos and dirt.’
      • ‘Last year we lost 10 marks for litter, weeds and general overall impression of dirt and neglect.’
      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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Readers need some information quickly - dirt on candidates before Election Day, for instance.’
    • ‘Their political ploy is to deny knowledge of all accusations and try to throw dirt on their opposition hoping to deflect the media attention.’
    • ‘Nixon wanted dirt on Ellsberg, so his men dispatched a ham-fisted outfit to Los Angeles to see what Fielding had.’
    • ‘Anyway, Helen doesn't need to dig up dirt on the Maori party.’
    • ‘He has got on the public record a senior staffer saying that he spends his time, he occupies his time, digging dirt on me.’
    • ‘In the novel Stark assigns narrator Jack Burden the task of uncovering dirt on the universally admired Judge Monty Irwin.’
    • ‘But his opponents are reported to be digging for dirt on the actor, who has faced claims about his private life in the past.’
    • ‘As you sidle up close you can hear voices swapping art world gossip, platitudes and dirt on various celebs, institutions and artists.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 gives us some behind the scenes dirt on all these contestants.’
    • ‘‘There is an expectation that somebody, somewhere has got some dirt on him,’ said one senior MP menacingly.’
    • ‘It is situations like this that provide unwarranted dirt on local promoters, partygoers and the scene in general.’
    • ‘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 age of Drudge and various anti-Drudges, if you have dirt on a political opponent, you make sure it gets out.’
    • ‘Pam gives the inside dirt on parliament and it's not pretty.’
    • ‘Well, I'll dig up more dirt on you, or I'll lie and say you did something really bad.’
    • ‘Truth is that some news agencies can't wait to get dirt on the military so they can embarrass the Bush administration.’
    • ‘Read up to find dirt on opponents; if there's nothing in the gossip pages, find weaknesses in their game.’
    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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She wanted to do her dirt and not get punished.’
      • ‘Even as hard as Omar pushed us all, we knew he would never do us dirt; the result was tremendous overwhelming loyalty.’
      • ‘You never know if the guy you slam today will be in a position to do you dirt tomorrow.’
      • ‘The developer did us dirt, but we are just fine now.’
      • ‘It is nothing more than the two men who did 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.’
      • ‘In a recent picture the leading lady tried to do me dirt exactly in this manner.’
      • ‘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.’
  • drag the name of someone (or something) through the dirt

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

      • ‘As commanding officer of the Scots Guards he told a pack of lies about Peter's murder and dragged his name through the dirt.’
      • ‘He dragged my name through the dirt for no reason.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘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 think I got the laws of physics a bit wrong and I was eating dirt!’
      • ‘Any government, any business, any individual who does not align himself with this undisputable reality will eat dirt.’
      • ‘I'm guessing this is what the author wanted her to do, just prostrate herself and eat dirt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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'd be eating dirt if I just played in a band all the time.’
  • treat someone like dirt

    • Treat someone with a complete lack of respect.

      • ‘Is it right that you can improve your lifestyle by ripping someone off and treating them like dirt?’
      • ‘People below you are treated like dirt and the people above you, you grovel to.’
      • ‘We have to be back in our rooms by nine p.m., the food is awful and the warden treats us like dirt.’
      • ‘And despite my having done nothing to deserve it, the last couple of years he started treating me 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.’
      • ‘In human terms, they may be the salt of the earth, but the corporate-driven system commonly treats them like dirt.’
      • ‘One said: ‘She's got to get rid of him - he's got no respect for her and treats her 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.’
      • ‘I think I accused John of driving him away and treating him like dirt.’
      • ‘And the people who were supposed to be concerned about me, had both treated me like dirt.’


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