Definition of nasty in English:



  • 1Very bad or unpleasant.

    ‘plastic bags burn with a nasty, acrid smell’
    ‘dad's had a nasty accident’
    • ‘From there we went to a nasty bar full of hungry looking western men and western girls dressed like hookers who made an effort to look especially cheap and trashy.’
    • ‘"You probably have a pretty nasty hangover, " I said.’
    • ‘For those who enjoy eating out (or eating in with a takeaway) and thought that by avoiding junk food they could do so healthily, this will have come as a nasty shock.’
    • ‘Father, why do these words sound so nasty?’
    • ‘Through careful planning people can avoid inheritance tax, which can come as a nasty shock at what is bound to be an upsetting time.’
    • ‘Had a nasty shock mid-afternoon while trawling the net.’
    • ‘Plans to build a new sewage plant to help free the air of nasty pongs should be given full support, a councillor said today.’
    • ‘You will be laughing, mind you, but some of the gore is fairly nasty.’
    • ‘Still, there are enough dangers on every side, especially from electrically operated gadgets that can give a nasty shock if handled the wrong way.’
    • ‘This might come as a shock to some people, but chickens are the most stinky, repulsive and nasty creatures to walk the earth.’
    • ‘Monday's attack is the latest in a number of nasty incidents that have shocked locals in the town in recent weeks.’
    • ‘Now if we don't get a nasty shock from a popped housing bubble, we'll be in very good shape.’
    • ‘Then things get really nasty: the new robots are released.’
    • ‘Dinner was disgustingly gross and nasty; it was some custom British food that they all loved but non-British hated.’
    • ‘He stalked out of the room before she said anything else nasty to him.’
    • ‘This can come as a very nasty shock to customers.’
    • ‘As we all know, Garry was in for a rather nasty surprise.’
    • ‘Just as I started to feel a bit, uh, constrained (I don't like enclosed spaces, let alone enclosed spaces full of nasty gas) we were let out into the fresh air.’
    • ‘It's a huge skull full of nasty things like rats and guts and caffeine and lifeless craniums and free stuff from the sponsors.’
    • ‘Many firms are trying to set up such systems so that they avoid nasty shocks.’
    • ‘Publishers, apparently, found it a nasty shock to be ‘up against someone whose skill in driving a bargain equalled if not excelled their own’.’
    • ‘After a shower last night and a shower this morning, I can still smell the nasty stench of the awful artificial concoction.’
    unpleasant, disagreeable, disgusting, distasteful, awful, dreadful, horrible, terrible, vile, foul, abominable, frightful, loathsome, revolting, repulsive, odious, sickening, nauseating, nauseous, repellent, repugnant, horrendous, hideous, appalling, atrocious, offensive, objectionable, obnoxious, unpalatable, unsavoury, unappetizing, off-putting, uninviting, dirty, filthy, squalid
    serious, dangerous, bad, awful, dreadful, terrible, frightful, critical, severe, grave, alarming, worrying, concerning
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    1. 1.1 (of the weather) unpleasantly cold or wet.
      ‘it's a nasty old night’
      • ‘Most of what she could see was that there was a nasty storm picking up.’
      • ‘Despite an occasional nasty storm, Florida still is as close to paradise as you can get year-round.’
      • ‘Despite the nasty weather, she had picked this day to walk into town and get something to eat before she made the long journey home.’
      • ‘Having just got back from the shops near where I work, I am quite wet, having been caught in a bit of a nasty downpour.’
      • ‘Normal hail grows up as a drop of rain and is chosen to be frozen and sent to Earth as an envoy of impending nasty winter weather.’
      • ‘Hey, who couldn't love a sport that makes it fun to be outdoors in nasty weather?’
      • ‘It also was a week that began with nasty weather.’
      • ‘An uncomfortable silence hung over them like a nasty fog as she waited for a gasp of shock and a whole barrage of scolding to fall onto her sister, but none came.’
      • ‘This will help you to determine where you can stop should anything unexpected arise like a prematurely grumbly tummy or a nasty storm.’
      • ‘The once blue sky was already turning angry black, threatening all those below it with a very nasty rain.’
      • ‘This monster crashed our plane in that nasty storm and got us all lost!’
      • ‘The weather was nasty, very, very stormy and a lot of people were seasick.’
      • ‘The weather had turned much colder with a nasty North Easterly wind chilling all the lakes.’
      • ‘Sunday morning arrived just as the weatherman predicted - nasty with cold, clouds, rain, and snow.’
      • ‘A few months ago, we had a nasty hail storm in Central Iowa.’
      • ‘He had to drive through a nasty hurricane to get there, which was interesting, but that's not the best part of the story.’
      • ‘This allows easy access at night or in nasty weather.’
      • ‘If the weather however is cold and nasty, then they know they have to prepare to bite their tongue this coming year.’
      • ‘This is very moderate by comparison, but still very nasty weather.’
      • ‘After what seemed like an eternity of thick fog and really nasty weather, the skies finally cleared up yesterday.’
      unpleasant, disagreeable, foul, filthy, inclement
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    2. 1.2 Repugnant to the mind.
      ‘her stories are very nasty, full of murder and violence’
      • ‘You have to be brutal and horrible, almost nasty.’
      • ‘He was a miserable little narrow minded bigot with a nasty temper.’
      • ‘The bad guys coming out full of nasty tricks, the good guys seeing their world crumble around them as everything that can go wrong does.’
      • ‘But, hold on, I hear you say, they really are repugnant, nasty, racist scum.’
      • ‘If I thought I had seen dirty political tricks as nasty and vile as they could get, I was wrong.’
      • ‘So is this the nasty party shedding its repulsive past?’
      • ‘Because once people meet me, they can see that I'm not a one-eyed monster, a horrible evil nasty guy.’
      • ‘Joe tried to look as his normal-self again; but his mind kept exploding with nasty thoughts towards the girl, Laura.’
      • ‘By this I mean that you are doubting your reasoning to attain goals, such as to stop smoking, and filling it full of nasty outcomes, due to this lack of self belief in your intent.’
      • ‘I want to think of something to insult you at the moment, but nothing comes to mind that's nasty enough not to compliment you.’
      • ‘Am in a really nasty horrible, scream and shouting kind of mood now.’
      • ‘Sorry, but my mind has been overflowing with nice things and nasty things in equal measure.’
      • ‘Never in all her life had she seen something so disgusting so nasty happen.’
      • ‘Both games are full of nasty, sadistic violence, leavened just enough by irony and black humor to be tolerable.’
      • ‘But the man who led the revolt is a thoroughly nasty piece of work.’
      • ‘It is an unspeakable act of violence carried out by unspeakably nasty vicious bloodthirsty thugs.’
      • ‘The nasty aspect of contemporary workplace bullying is that it is directed towards senior employees.’
      • ‘‘Sectarianism is a community disease - a nasty attitude of the mind like racism,’ he says.’
      • ‘Perhaps yesterday afternoon I slipped into a parallel world where everyone was really nasty, full of hate and not afraid of showing it?’
      • ‘Like a cartoonist exaggerates a big nose for effect, we use the full power of nasty words as explosives to get our point across.’
      hateful, detestable, abhorrent, repulsive, odious, repugnant, repellent, disgusting, revolting, sickening, nauseating, abominable, despicable, contemptible, reprehensible, execrable, damnable
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  • 2Behaving in an unpleasant or spiteful way.

    ‘Harry was a nasty, foul-mouthed old devil’
    • ‘I don't understand why someone would do that, unless they are nasty and hurtful.’
    • ‘That just proves something else, he's selfish - finding humour in someone else's misfortune, is a cruel and nasty thing to do.’
    • ‘Girls engage in catty behavior and nasty comments, judging each other on appearance and material possessions.’
    • ‘In the past I would have cringed at calling someone something so inhuman, but I hadn't met anyone as nasty and rude as Christine before, so the name was justified.’
    • ‘But if you've been nasty, bad, rude… people will remember that side of you.’
    • ‘Sometimes, the most rational interpretation of someone's behaviour is that they are nasty, sadistic or cruel.’
    • ‘It is a cause of concern and was a very vicious and nasty attack and we are treating it as a racially motivated incident.’
    • ‘Not just a grudge, but a hateful, vindictive, nasty bitterness that I didn't even know existed until this person's name was brought up.’
    • ‘He's not nasty, cruel or bent on taking over the world.’
    • ‘You are foul, surly, nasty, unhelpful, unpleasant and clearly you have a lot of issues.’
    • ‘The attendant could have informed me that, sorry, store policy didn't allow men in the dressing rooms, without the rude look or the nasty comments.’
    • ‘A voice that was nasty and spiteful, leaping at any chance to cause her pain.’
    • ‘Being nasty, rude, shrewish and creepy was very fun to do - I simply pretended to be in a bad mood each time the camera rolled.’
    • ‘Most of them just need jobs, and these jobs are extremely easy to get because of the undesirable, and downright horribly nasty and cruel, nature of the work.’
    • ‘Still, at least I had a new toy to take my mind off all the nasty comments I was getting.’
    • ‘If you are nasty, rude or don't follow the rules you can also get flamed.’
    • ‘To face a life of ridicule after having your story published in the paper, and on the internet, linked to by as many cruel and nasty people as possible.’
    • ‘All this festive cheer is starting to become a bit boring, so why not join us on a needless, hurtful, and downright nasty hate campaign against someone we've never met?’
    • ‘His imperialists are often nasty folk who behaved horribly towards the natives under their yoke.’
    • ‘He admits that he ‘may be overzealous at times,’ maybe even nasty or rude.’
    unkind, unpleasant, unfriendly, disagreeable, inconsiderate, uncharitable, rude, churlish, spiteful, malicious, mean, mean-spirited, ill-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, bad-tempered, hostile, vicious, malevolent, evil-minded, surly, obnoxious, poisonous, venomous, vindictive, malign, malignant, cantankerous, hateful, hurtful, cruel, wounding, abusive
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    1. 2.1 Annoying or unwelcome.
      ‘life has a nasty habit of repeating itself’
      • ‘Not so much by personal preference, but more so by the busy nature of my schoolwork and, of course, that nasty habit of playing computer games that irk parents so.’
      • ‘Some e-tailers have a nasty habit of taking your money as soon as you place an order, then not dispatching the goods for several months.’
      • ‘But events have this nasty habit of coming along and disturbing all your best-laid plans, don't they?’
      • ‘Opinion polls have a nasty habit of entrenching prejudices.’
      • ‘Also, midges have a nasty habit of crawling up trouser legs and even into lace-holes on hiking boots, so they will get you one way or another.’
      • ‘Just too many nasty trick questions and annoying video clips of past statements, but that's why you get the big money.’
      • ‘The trouble with pulling the covers over your head and hiding from reality is that reality has a nasty habit of sticking around.’
      • ‘Since shareholders have a nasty habit of leaving, customers will probably have to bear the brunt of these losses and the bank may try to push profit margins even wider apart.’
      • ‘In recent years, birthdays have had a nasty habit of getting me thinking too much, recalling memories I'd rather not recall and conducting one too many internal dialogues.’
      • ‘Over time, politicians develop various nasty habits, and one of them is the use of phrases that do not actually mean what they say.’
      • ‘For one thing, the author has a nasty habit of separating sentences with a comma, when a semi-colon would be far more appropriate.’
      • ‘Maybe there's a patch on the market to help politicians quit this nasty habit.’
      • ‘But at the very least we must do our own house cleaning, change our downright nasty habits of further polluting an already over-polluted environment.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, this type of viewing can become a nasty habit that, in the end, sabotages any meaningful engagement with sports.’
      • ‘Mail, keys, change, Peter's camera equipment, books, plastic bags, and all manner of other debris have a nasty habit of collecting on that coffee table.’
      • ‘In the nursery school language of heroes and villains, there is no word for someone capable of good and bad, so the disappointment has a nasty habit of being backdated.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, plenty of investors develop the nasty habit of boasting of their gains instead of contemplating possible overvaluation concerns.’
      • ‘That's why the droop and crinkle of middle-age is the source of such gloom, particularly as it has a nasty habit of catching you unawares.’
      annoying, irritating, infuriating, unwelcome, disagreeable, unpleasant, unfortunate, maddening, exasperating, irksome, vexing, vexatious
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  • 3Damaging or harmful.

    ‘a nasty, vicious-looking hatchet’
    • ‘Your luscious locks can also suffer from heat damage and nasty rays from the sun so they need some protection too.’
    • ‘It takes about five minutes to get to the surface without bursting your lungs or doing some other nasty damage to your body.’
    • ‘If left unchecked, free radicals cause nasty damage to the body's cell membranes and DNA.’
    • ‘They could still do some quite nasty damage if people inadvertently handled them or were exposed to them.’
    poisonous, toxic, deadly, virulent
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  • 1An unpleasant or harmful person or thing.

    ‘a water conditioner to neutralize chlorine and other nasties’
    • ‘It works so well because many of these microscopic nasties are, rather like horror movie vampires, extremely sensitive to light.’
    • ‘Because just as in the 19th century the water contained little nasties so today does the internet.’
    • ‘Computer users need to protect their PCs from all the nasties spreading on the internet.’
    • ‘The problem with these nasties is that they lack motivation: it's impossible to tell whether they act out of naïvety, malice or both.’
    • ‘Firstly, both human and digital nasties constantly evolve, as do the malicious tactics of intruders.’
    • ‘Neill turns on the boy, and in low, menacing tones, he demonstrates to the child how a prehistoric nasty would mangle and devour him.’
    • ‘A laconic, crimson-coloured anti-hero, he is a half-human, half-demon agent in a government agency that fights paranormal nasties.’
    • ‘The bathroom is a common place to find bacteria and other nasties lurking.’
    • ‘Yet despite the presence of molds, bacteria, and other nasties, most archaeological sites, including tombs, have proven safe for science and tourism alike.’
    • ‘In Australia, medical specialists and toxicologists know about the cancer links, but the research hasn't been done in this country to separate diesel exhaust from other nasties in the environment.’
    • ‘Together, they are close to finding a way to vaporise the nasties once and for all.’
    • ‘He plays a 21 st-century courier, who can download computer information directly into his brain, on the run from a variety of nasties intent on pulling his plug.’
    • ‘One wonders what other accounting nasties lurk beneath the surface in regard to other telecoms companies.’
    • ‘Some of those little nasties found innocent of producing havoc in the immune system were: low ferritin concentrations and elevated uric acid and phosphokinase and cortisol levels.’
    • ‘He lives there with Cynthia, paranoid that the nasties out to get him in the first film will return.’
    • ‘The bad guys again break one of the cardinal rules for being an evil nasty: When you have the chance to kill your nemesis, do it!’
    • ‘The board uses through-hole construction rather than surface-mount, and is housed in a stainless-steel chassis, providing maximum shielding from external nasties.’
    • ‘The land tax sting is going to be quite a political nasty.’
    • ‘This place is run by a collection of idiots and nasties, who force the boys to dig holes in the sweltering sun.’
    1. 1.1 A horror video or film.
      See also video nasty
      • ‘I want to see horror hark back to the old days of video nasties.’
      • ‘Blockbusters won't be stocking the new nasties.’


  • a nasty one

    • informal An awkward question or task.

      • ‘‘That was a nasty one,’ Eric commented jovially, melting out of the trees in his brown uniform.’
      • ‘I knew his expressions too well, and he would defiantly give me a nasty one this time.’
      • ‘This particular module was a nasty one: it modified the behavior of certain system calls to hide itself from the lsmod command and to hide the presence of scanners, crackers, sniffer logs and other such files.’
  • a nasty piece (or bit) of work

    • informal An unpleasant or untrustworthy person.

      ‘if you ask me he's a nasty piece of work’
      • ‘A womaniser, unfaithful, just a nasty piece of work.’
      • ‘Your behaviour makes it clear that you are a nasty piece of work who abuses those who love you in order to get what you want.’
      • ‘He is a nasty piece of work, and has to go, but there must be other ways to sort this out.’
      • ‘He's widely known to be a nasty piece of work and I hope he gets long suspension.’
      • ‘Altogether a nasty piece of work, but a delight to get into the head of and write.’
      • ‘Convention says that the Florentine civil servant, power-broker and writer, Niccolo Machiavelli, was a nasty piece of work.’
      • ‘Don't rely on Lady Fortune: I know her well, and she can be a nasty piece of work at times!’
      • ‘Until last week he was out on parole, having served more than half of a seven-year sentence for being a nasty piece of work.’
      • ‘He was a nasty piece of work and generally was avoided by the other prisoners who knew his reputation.’
      • ‘She is a nasty piece of work and people used to give her a very wide berth.’


Late Middle English: of unknown origin.