Definition of nasty in US English:



  • 1Highly unpleasant, especially to the senses; physically nauseating.

    ‘plastic bags burn with a nasty, acrid smell’
    • ‘Monday's attack is the latest in a number of nasty incidents that have shocked locals in the town in recent weeks.’
    • ‘"You probably have a pretty nasty hangover, " I said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Still, there are enough dangers on every side, especially from electrically operated gadgets that can give a nasty shock if handled the wrong way.’
    • ‘You will be laughing, mind you, but some of the gore is fairly nasty.’
    • ‘This can come as a very nasty shock to customers.’
    • ‘Plans to build a new sewage plant to help free the air of nasty pongs should be given full support, a councillor said today.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Had a nasty shock mid-afternoon while trawling the net.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Publishers, apparently, found it a nasty shock to be ‘up against someone whose skill in driving a bargain equalled if not excelled their own’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Through careful planning people can avoid inheritance tax, which can come as a nasty shock at what is bound to be an upsetting time.’
    • ‘He stalked out of the room before she said anything else nasty to him.’
    • ‘Many firms are trying to set up such systems so that they avoid nasty shocks.’
    • ‘Father, why do these words sound so nasty?’
    • ‘After a shower last night and a shower this morning, I can still smell the nasty stench of the awful artificial concoction.’
    • ‘This might come as a shock to some people, but chickens are the most stinky, repulsive and nasty creatures to walk the earth.’
    • ‘It's a huge skull full of nasty things like rats and guts and caffeine and lifeless craniums and free stuff from the sponsors.’
    • ‘As we all know, Garry was in for a rather nasty surprise.’
    • ‘Now if we don't get a nasty shock from a popped housing bubble, we'll be in very good shape.’
    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.
      ‘a cold, nasty day’
      • ‘This is very moderate by comparison, but still very nasty weather.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After what seemed like an eternity of thick fog and really nasty weather, the skies finally cleared up yesterday.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A few months ago, we had a nasty hail storm in Central Iowa.’
      • ‘The weather was nasty, very, very stormy and a lot of people were seasick.’
      • ‘This monster crashed our plane in that nasty storm and got us all lost!’
      • ‘This will help you to determine where you can stop should anything unexpected arise like a prematurely grumbly tummy or a nasty storm.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sunday morning arrived just as the weatherman predicted - nasty with cold, clouds, rain, and snow.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The weather had turned much colder with a nasty North Easterly wind chilling all the lakes.’
      • ‘If the weather however is cold and nasty, then they know they have to prepare to bite their tongue this coming year.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Despite an occasional nasty storm, Florida still is as close to paradise as you can get year-round.’
      • ‘The once blue sky was already turning angry black, threatening all those below it with a very nasty rain.’
      • ‘Most of what she could see was that there was a nasty storm picking up.’
      unpleasant, disagreeable, foul, filthy, inclement
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    2. 1.2 Repugnant to the mind; morally bad.
      ‘her stories are very nasty, full of murder and violence’
      • ‘‘Sectarianism is a community disease - a nasty attitude of the mind like racism,’ he says.’
      • ‘Like a cartoonist exaggerates a big nose for effect, we use the full power of nasty words as explosives to get our point across.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Because once people meet me, they can see that I'm not a one-eyed monster, a horrible evil nasty guy.’
      • ‘Am in a really nasty horrible, scream and shouting kind of mood now.’
      • ‘Both games are full of nasty, sadistic violence, leavened just enough by irony and black humor to be tolerable.’
      • ‘Sorry, but my mind has been overflowing with nice things and nasty things in equal measure.’
      • ‘The nasty aspect of contemporary workplace bullying is that it is directed towards senior employees.’
      • ‘It is an unspeakable act of violence carried out by unspeakably nasty vicious bloodthirsty thugs.’
      • ‘So is this the nasty party shedding its repulsive past?’
      • ‘You have to be brutal and horrible, almost nasty.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Never in all her life had she seen something so disgusting so nasty happen.’
      • ‘He was a miserable little narrow minded bigot with a nasty temper.’
      • ‘Joe tried to look as his normal-self again; but his mind kept exploding with nasty thoughts towards the girl, Laura.’
      • ‘Perhaps yesterday afternoon I slipped into a parallel world where everyone was really nasty, full of hate and not afraid of showing it?’
      • ‘But the man who led the revolt is a thoroughly nasty piece of work.’
      • ‘But, hold on, I hear you say, they really are repugnant, nasty, racist scum.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If I thought I had seen dirty political tricks as nasty and vile as they could get, I was wrong.’
      hateful, detestable, abhorrent, repulsive, odious, repugnant, repellent, disgusting, revolting, sickening, nauseating, abominable, despicable, contemptible, reprehensible, execrable, damnable
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  • 2(of a person or animal) behaving in an unpleasant or spiteful way.

    ‘Harry was a nasty, foul-mouthed old devil’
    ‘when she confronted him, he turned nasty’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Girls engage in catty behavior and nasty comments, judging each other on appearance and material possessions.’
    • ‘His imperialists are often nasty folk who behaved horribly towards the natives under their yoke.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I don't understand why someone would do that, unless they are nasty and hurtful.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is a cause of concern and was a very vicious and nasty attack and we are treating it as a racially motivated incident.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He admits that he ‘may be overzealous at times,’ maybe even nasty or rude.’
    • ‘You are foul, surly, nasty, unhelpful, unpleasant and clearly you have a lot of issues.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘That just proves something else, he's selfish - finding humour in someone else's misfortune, is a cruel and nasty thing to do.’
    • ‘He's not nasty, cruel or bent on taking over the world.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sometimes, the most rational interpretation of someone's behaviour is that they are nasty, sadistic or cruel.’
    • ‘But if you've been nasty, bad, rude… people will remember that side of you.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A voice that was nasty and spiteful, leaping at any chance to cause her pain.’
    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’
      • ‘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, this type of viewing can become a nasty habit that, in the end, sabotages any meaningful engagement with sports.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For one thing, the author has a nasty habit of separating sentences with a comma, when a semi-colon would be far more appropriate.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The trouble with pulling the covers over your head and hiding from reality is that reality has a nasty habit of sticking around.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Maybe there's a patch on the market to help politicians quit this nasty habit.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Over time, politicians develop various nasty habits, and one of them is the use of phrases that do not actually mean what they say.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Just too many nasty trick questions and annoying video clips of past statements, but that's why you get the big money.’
      annoying, irritating, infuriating, unwelcome, disagreeable, unpleasant, unfortunate, maddening, exasperating, irksome, vexing, vexatious
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  • 3Physically or mentally damaging 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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often nasties
  • 1An unpleasant or harmful person or thing.

    ‘bacteria and other 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.’
    • ‘The problem with these nasties is that they lack motivation: it's impossible to tell whether they act out of naïvety, malice or both.’
    • ‘Computer users need to protect their PCs from all the nasties spreading on the internet.’
    • ‘The land tax sting is going to be quite a political nasty.’
    • ‘A laconic, crimson-coloured anti-hero, he is a half-human, half-demon agent in a government agency that fights paranormal nasties.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He lives there with Cynthia, paranoid that the nasties out to get him in the first film will return.’
    • ‘This place is run by a collection of idiots and nasties, who force the boys to dig holes in the sweltering sun.’
    • ‘Together, they are close to finding a way to vaporise the nasties once and for all.’
    • ‘Because just as in the 19th century the water contained little nasties so today does the internet.’
    • ‘Neill turns on the boy, and in low, menacing tones, he demonstrates to the child how a prehistoric nasty would mangle and devour him.’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘Firstly, both human and digital nasties constantly evolve, as do the malicious tactics of intruders.’
    • ‘One wonders what other accounting nasties lurk beneath the surface in regard to other telecoms companies.’
    • ‘It works so well because many of these microscopic nasties are, rather like horror movie vampires, extremely sensitive to light.’
    • ‘The board uses through-hole construction rather than surface-mount, and is housed in a stainless-steel chassis, providing maximum shielding from external nasties.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 A horror video or movie.
      • ‘Blockbusters won't be stocking the new nasties.’
      • ‘I want to see horror hark back to the old days of video nasties.’


Late Middle English: of unknown origin.