Definition of get one's hands dirty (or dirty one's hands) in English:

get one's hands dirty (or dirty one's hands)


  • 1Do manual, menial, or other hard work.

    • ‘And it's getting harder to convince high school students to get their hands dirty when they've come through a system which measures success in terms of a university degree and the size of the pay packet.’
    • ‘They are asked by their parents to choose a way of life that involves getting their hands dirty for very little or no money.’
    • ‘Don't tell me you once got your hands dirty between VCA and graphic design.’
    • ‘And those who do have jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber are more likely than anywhere else to be getting their hands dirty in manual or semi-skilled jobs.’
    • ‘I never forgot where I'd come from, and I was never too good that I couldn't get my hands dirty and do menial jobs.’
    • ‘Members of the Lions Club got their hands dirty on Thursday night, when they donned gloves and picked up shovels for a clean up of Samson's Lane and Rossglass Beach.’
    • ‘After a life working in data communications for British Telecom, British Gas and the Royal Bank of Scotland, he's now swapped the ordinary office life for a job that really involves getting his hands dirty.’
    • ‘The Lowry managers seemed happy to get their hands dirty, though some found it hard going.’
    • ‘People think that if you go straight into football you don't appreciate finishing early, that you don't have to get your hands dirty or work hard.’
    • ‘The Midwest is full of doughy white guys that love to get their hands dirty and work hard, so that shouldn't be a problem.’
    1. 1.1informal Become involved in dishonest or dishonourable activity.
      • ‘Have there been trends where you feel like you're getting your hands dirty by even involving yourself?’
      • ‘We weren't even sure whether we wanted to get involved, get our hands dirty with politics.’
      • ‘Elections are a dirty business, and Brown makes no apology for getting his hands dirty.’