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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 tricks
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I'm not goin' to do things wot's wrong—low, dirty tricks—so I ain't.

    Harding's luck E. [Edith] Nesbit
  • “And before Ritter plays some more of his dirty tricks,” added Andy.

    The Putnam Hall Encampment Arthur M. Winfield
  • None of us mean to be fixed by any more of your dirty tricks.'

    Menotah Ernest G. Henham
  • Haven't you always chosen to hang on to them and join in their dirty tricks?

    The Lee Shore

    Rose Macaulay
  • Explanations, if necessary, can follow later, but one has to take no chances with Fritz and all his dirty tricks.

Slang definitions & phrases for dirty tricks

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 tricks

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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