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dirty tricks

plural noun, Informal.
Politics. unethical or illegal campaign practices or pranks intended to disrupt or sabotage the campaigns of opposing candidates.
any similar practices carried out against rival countries or corporations for espionage or commercial purposes.
Origin of dirty tricks
First recorded in 1970-75
Related forms
[dur-tee-trik-uh-ree] /ˈdɜr tiˈtrɪk ə ri/ (Show IPA),
dirty-tricks, adjective
[dur-tee-trik-ster] /ˈdɜr tiˈtrɪk stər/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dirty trick
Historical Examples
  • Thou art wrong, my lad, and thou'lt be sorry for this dirty trick.'

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • He was ready eventually to put up with any dirty trick in the course of the voyage.

    Tales Of Hearsay Joseph Conrad
  • It was a dirty trick, just like the one, by Jove, Von Minden tried to play on me!

    The Forbidden Trail Honor Willsie
  • It was a dirty trick to play, he thought, but it was justifiable.

    Starman's Quest Robert Silverberg
  • For lying, or thieving, or any mean, dirty trick I would have no mercy on him.

    Held Fast For England

    G. A. Henty
  • You did me a cowardly, dirty trick, and you confessed to me that you were sorry for it.

    The Weathercock George Manville Fenn
  • But Hall will do some dirty trick, one of these days, to get even on that mining deal.

    A Man of Two Countries Alice Harriman
  • Never did a dirty trick in his life nor an unjust one—except to his own and only son.

    The Brass Bound Box Evelyn Raymond
  • I wondered if they were going to make my dog do some dirty trick.

    Nobody's Boy Hector Malot
  • You may deny it if you want to, but you played me a mean, dirty trick.

    Justin Wingate, Ranchman John H. Whitson
British Dictionary definitions for dirty trick

dirty trick

a malicious and contemptible action
  1. underhand activity and machinations in political or governmental affairs
  2. (as modifier): dirty-tricks operation
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for dirty trick

dirty tricks


: the Senate Watergate Committee's chief ''dirty tricks'' investigator

noun phrase

Dishonest or underhanded practices, esp in politics; malicious tactics: make into federal crimes many ''dirty tricks'' in presidential and congressional elections/ Mr Clarke called the indictment ''one of the greatest political dirty tricks of all times''

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with dirty trick

dirty tricks

Undercover or clandestine operations and deceitful stratagems in politics and espionage. For example, This campaign has been dominated by the dirty tricks of both sides. The adjective dirty here is used in the sense of “unethical” or “unfair.” The term originally was applied to covert intelligence operations carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, whose planning directorate was nicknamed “department of dirty tricks.” It later was extended to underhanded activity intended to undermine political opponents and commercial rivals. [ 1940s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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