Definition of dirt in US English:



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

    ‘his face was covered in dirt’
    • ‘A gray tarp, ragged and covered with dry, caked dirt fell open in her hands.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He wiped the red dirt from his face and struggled to catch his breath.’
    • ‘The textile cover protects the car against dirt, dust and sunlight, among other things, until the cover is removed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His face was rather dirty, his nose smudged with dust and dirt, but he looked like he was enjoying himself nonetheless.’
    • ‘Altair picked himself up from the ground, brushing the dirt from his coat.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘"Oh, Chris, " Lorna said, brushing dirt off her pants.’
    • ‘The inside needs to be free from dust bunnies, dirt, gravel, and pet dander - even if you end up buying a furry case.’
    • ‘The boy hesitated, wiping the dirt on his face.’
    • ‘And these items are all covered in dust and dirt from the construction, and now sit on my windowsill.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The mile ended and the eight were covered in red dirt and breathing heavily.’
    • ‘Three and a half months worth of dust, dirt and sand needs to be shaken from our tents, the van and rucksacks.’
    • ‘I was fully dressed, my pants stained brown with dirt and dust.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Another tear escapes, tracing clean a second path through the accumulated dirt on his face.’
    • ‘"Thanks doll face, " I said with a grin before wiping some dirt off my pants.’
    grime, dust, soot, smut
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    1. 1.1 Loose soil or earth; the ground.
      ‘the soldier sagged to the dirt’
      • ‘With a curse, he dropped back to the ground and examined the dirt at his feet.’
      • ‘It seemed obligatory that every country airport have at least one of each sinking into the dirt somewhere on the grounds.’
      • ‘His wings dragged a little on the ground, catching the dirt and dead leaves, and his head fell back on Jonathon's shoulder.’
      • ‘Ford ran over and started brushing away the loose dirt in front of her.’
      • ‘He finished his cigarette and ground it into the dirt with his boot.’
      • ‘Her body fell forwards and her head collided with the loose dirt.’
      • ‘After both of his feet had set ground onto the dirt, the window disappeared.’
      • ‘Her shoulders drooped and she looked down at the dusty ground, idly making a line in the loose dirt with her foot.’
      • ‘I fell, but I grabbed at the edge and just caught it, but I soon realized that the dirt and ground in the area of the ravine we were in was loose.’
      • ‘She slammed her fists into the ground, tears falling onto the soft dirt.’
      • ‘I scanned the mountain path with the balls of my feet grounding the dirt, ready to jump at any moment.’
      • ‘Her hands clenched into fists against the loose dirt and she dropped her head in defeat.’
      • ‘A blanket of loose, brown dirt covered the freshly dug hole, sealing its contents from the world.’
      • ‘Her bare feet padded against the packed dirt of the forest floor and her cotton skirt billowed out behind her.’
      • ‘And this included not only the governments, but children who attend school sitting on the ground in the dirt.’
      • ‘He hopped out of the pilot's seat and kicked open the door, jumping down to the dirt and hitting the ground running.’
      • ‘A black boot-heel ground it into the dirt, crushing the spark to lifelessness.’
      • ‘The two rolled on the ground in the dirt before coming to a stopped.’
      • ‘My eyes focused on the yard, and the giant Welshman in the dirt throwing loads of soil with a shovel.’
      • ‘He scoffed and rested his cheek back on the dirt of the ground.’
    2. 1.2usually as modifier Earth used to make a surface for a road, floor, or other area of ground.
      ‘a dirt road’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's this dirt road that is in almost every dream I have.’
      • ‘‘Once you're outside the capital it's all dirt roads and most houses don't have electricity,’ he said.’
      • ‘Brittany led Caleb and I down the dirt path and through the broken fence.’
      • ‘It's a place of dirt roads and galvanised iron shacks.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The short six-mile loop offers stretches of dirt road for passing and technical singletrack that runs along cliff edges.’
      • ‘As the trees lessened, Zeke and Jon reached the dirt path and stopped.’
      • ‘Ten to 12 hour trips on dirt roads in 4WDs or trucks are unheard of.’
      • ‘Motorists leave huge clouds of dust behind them as they drive along the village's narrow dirt roads in the dry season.’
      • ‘Larry wanted to give me a tour of his ranch, so we talked in his pickup, lurching down rutted dirt roads.’
      • ‘I pointed along a narrow dirt path that branched off the main access road.’
      • ‘It's possible you could take this dirt road and eventually end up on Interstate 95 or U.S. route 1.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Before the arrival of the railways in 1850, travel in India meant months of struggle over primitive dirt roads.’
      • ‘The dirt road down to the river passed by some clay banks.’
      • ‘Install a polyethylene vapor retarder, or equivalent material, over the dirt floor.’
      earth, soil, loam, clay, silt
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    3. 1.3
      short for dirt track
    4. 1.4informal Excrement.
      ‘a lawn covered in dog dirt’
      • ‘Along the route I noticed 4 separate lots of dog dirt fouling the pavement.’
      • ‘Listening to some people, Skipton is ‘not what it used to be’; it's a dirty, badly run, untidy town full of dog dirt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The 19 year-old says she has to negotiate mounds of dog dirt whenever she visits Cliffe Castle with her toddler, Rosie.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The women said that they had intended to remove the dog dirt but felt frightened and shaken by the demand.’
      • ‘And broken vodka bottles, condoms, dog dirt and human excrement have turned the area into a menacing health hazard.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are scenes with me cleaning up dog dirt in my glittering boots!’
      • ‘There was dog dirt smeared on the slides and the floor.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dog dirt does not have to be fresh to be infective.’
      • ‘Local politics are about refuse collection and dog dirt, not the war with Iraq.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      excrement, excreta, droppings, faeces, dung, manure, ordure
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    5. 1.5 A state or quality of uncleanliness.
      ‘Pittsburgh used to be renowned for the sweat and dirt of industry’
      • ‘A sense, too, of something ancient and enduring that had managed to survive the poverty and dirt.’
      • ‘The facade is more than adequate, and the harsh reality of poverty and dirt all but invisible unless you take a wrong turn.’
      • ‘The dirt and grime of industrial toil has been largely replaced by white-collar jobs.’
      • ‘The dirt and disorder at the café bothered David almost more than his own problems.’
      • ‘Sharp, clever and prickly, Gwendolen reads the days away, oblivious to dirt and decay.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The dirt and squalor and laziness in the country are beyond words.’
      • ‘He also shows the underbelly of the city: its violence, flesh for hire, and atmosphere of poverty, dirt, and decay.’
      • ‘A visitor to the city just now would still have some impression of dirt and decay.’
      • ‘The dirt and the filthiness of the city and its open drains nauseate her.’
      • ‘A week later, it was a functioning hospital, an island of cleanliness and sanity in a sea of decay and dirt.’
      • ‘They didn't mention the monuments they'd seen or complain about the chaos and dirt.’
      • ‘The very name Grimethorpe conjures up an picture of dirt, decay and desolation.’
      • ‘SIR - Being born and bred in Bradford I am ashamed of the levels of dirt and filthiness in the Bradford 3 area.’
      dirtiness, squalidness, filth, filthiness, grubbiness, grime, griminess, muck, muckiness, slumminess, foulness, vileness, poverty, wretchedness, dinginess, meanness, nastiness, seediness, shabbiness, sordidness, sleaziness, insalubrity, slovenliness, repulsiveness
      View synonyms
    6. 1.6informal Gossip, especially 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He gives us some behind the scenes dirt on all these contestants.’
      • ‘He has got on the public record a senior staffer saying that he spends his time, he occupies his time, digging dirt on me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Readers need some information quickly - dirt on candidates before Election Day, for instance.’
      • ‘Read up to find dirt on opponents; if there's nothing in the gossip pages, find weaknesses in their game.’
      • ‘Pam gives the inside dirt on parliament and it's not pretty.’
      • ‘Anyway, Helen doesn't need to dig up dirt on the Maori party.’
      • ‘As you sidle up close you can hear voices swapping art world gossip, platitudes and dirt on various celebs, institutions and artists.’
      • ‘Well, I'll dig up more dirt on you, or I'll lie and say you did something really bad.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘It is situations like this that provide unwarranted dirt on local promoters, partygoers and the scene in general.’
      • ‘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.’
      scandal, gossip, talk, revelations, rumour, rumours, tittle-tattle, tattle
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    7. 1.7informal A worthless or contemptible person or thing.
      ‘she treats 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.’
      • ‘One said: ‘She's got to get rid of him - he's got no respect for her and treats her like dirt.’’
      • ‘In human terms, they may be the salt of the earth, but the corporate-driven system commonly treats them 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I think I accused John of driving him away and treating him 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.’


  • do someone dirt (also do dirt to)

    • informal Harm someone's reputation maliciously.

      • ‘It is nothing more than the two men who did you 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.’
      • ‘Indeed, I am often madder at the critics who are trying to be kind than to those obviously out to do me 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.’
      • ‘In a recent picture the leading lady tried to do me dirt exactly in this manner.’
      • ‘You never know if the guy you slam today will be in a position to do you dirt tomorrow.’
      • ‘Even as hard as Omar pushed us all, we knew he would never do us dirt; the result was tremendous overwhelming loyalty.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 behavior or damaging revelations.

      ‘he condemned players for dragging the name of football through the dirt’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘You can be rational and still find yourself eating dirt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The system forces the domestics to eat dirt for two years in hopes of getting into the country.’
      • ‘I'd be eating dirt if I just played in a band all the time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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