Definition of midden in English:



  • 1A dunghill or refuse heap.

    • ‘One video showed Bushell looking disparagingly at another house and saying how filthy it was and how much of a midden it was, a phrase he used repeatedly.’
    • ‘They showed her the midden, an open heap of manure and dirt, the same one she had seen the women dump the buckets on the day before, then they told her now was the time to use it if she had to.’
    • ‘The plaster probably was dumped in the midden during one of the construction campaigns.’
    • ‘David McOmish started talking about East Chisenbury on Salisbury Plain, which is a midden of refuse so large and strange it re-defines the concept of ‘rubbish’ and its ‘disposal’.’
    dump, refuse dump, rubbish dump, refuse heap, rubbish heap, refuse tip, rubbish tip, dumping ground, dustheap, slag heap
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1
      short for kitchen midden
      • ‘Shell middens reveal much about diet and food-gathering practices.’
      • ‘Today, none of the riffleshell species the researchers found in ancient middens survive at the study sites, where they were gathered by Native Americans over the millennia before European settlement.’
      • ‘All soil from each feature, collected by zone and level, and the soil from most of the middens was saved for flotation.’
      • ‘Associated sites include the dense cluster of prehistoric shell middens in the constricted Mississippi River floodplain.’
      • ‘Excavations of shell middens and temporary camps on the shore indicated mainly a hunter-gatherer subsistence.’
      • ‘Charcoal from the middens indicates that hazel, birch and willow grew in the vicinity, probably as pockets of light scrub, and that pine and oak were available either as driftwood or as imported timber.’
      • ‘The number of shell middens along the south Atlantic coast can never be determined accurately because many were destroyed in the early part of the 20th century.’
      • ‘Many sites tell us about how people lived, perhaps through the remains of their houses, or about what they ate, from food remains deposited in middens.’
      • ‘The Englishman's Castle is situated on a midden of great antiquity.’
      • ‘These sites included several freshwater mussel shell middens that contained a number of well-dated artifactual and biotic assemblages.’
      • ‘The middens from the city around the 8th century are full of shells from fresh water oysters.’
      • ‘A midden (rubbish pile) was found at the outer limit of one trench, where the original island occupants dumped their discarded food remains.’
      • ‘The junk itself is a collection of fossils from our evolutionary history, which makes it interesting in the same way that a midden is interesting to archeologists.’
      • ‘At Mildenhall Fen, ten miles to the south-west, two similar middens were excavated, again without any evidence for buildings.’
      • ‘But we've found bones of bear, deer, horse and wild boar in some of these middens.’
      • ‘For two centuries the crannog-dwellers threw their refuse into the loch, providing a ready-made midden to give clues to their way of life.’
      • ‘Now, their pyramid-shaped middens, or mussel-shell dumps, stand along the coastline like memorial cairns.’
      • ‘It is now clear that some are caused by the erosion of underlying features and deposits which relate to a vast range of activities including settlements, stoneworking sites, and middens.’
      • ‘So the pack-rat middens are time capsules of local vegetation allowing us to reconstruct what happened.’
      • ‘In archaeological parlance such trash deposits are known as middens.’


Late Middle English myddyng, of Scandinavian origin; compare with Danish mødding ‘muck heap’.