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[dish] /dɪʃ/
an open, relatively shallow container of pottery, glass, metal, wood, etc., used for various purposes, especially for holding or serving food.
any container used at table:
dirty dishes.
the food served or contained in a dish:
The meal consisted of several dishes.
a particular article, type, or preparation of food:
Rice is an inexpensive dish.
the quantity held by a dish; dishful:
a dish of applesauce.
anything like a dish in form or use.
concavity or the degree of concavity, as of a wheel.
Also called dish antenna. a concave, dish-shaped reflector serving to focus electromagnetic energy as part of a transmitter or receiver of radio, television, or microwave signals.
Slang. an attractive person, especially a female:
His wife is quite a dish.
Slang. an item of gossip.
verb (used with object)
to put into or serve in a dish, as food:
to dish food onto plates.
to fashion like a dish; make concave.
Slang. to gossip about:
They talked all night, dishing their former friends.
Slang. to defeat; frustrate; cheat.
verb (used without object)
Slang. to talk together informally, especially, to gossip.
Verb phrases
dish out, Informal.
  1. to serve (food) from a serving dish, pot, etc.
  2. to deal out; distribute:
    She dished out our pay in silver dollars.
dish it out, Informal. to dispense abusive language, punishment, or praise, enthusiastic approval, etc.:
When it comes to flattery, he can really dish it out.
Origin of dish
before 900; Middle English; Old English disc dish, plate, bowl (akin to German Tisch table) < Latin discus dish, discus
Related forms
underdish, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dish out
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was some mistake, some confusion, or perhaps some dish out of order.

  • She took the dish out of its rag of newspaper, and stood looking on it with joy.

    Sons and Lovers David Herbert Lawrence
  • For lack of this in a simple form, he concocted a dish out of vegetables, fruit and oil, which proved to him a great benefit.

    Stanley's Adventures in the Wilds of Africa

    Joel Tyler Headley and William Fletcher Johnson
  • My dogs and birds amused him, and did he not even do me the honor to relish a dish out of my kitchen?

    The Emperor, Complete Georg Ebers
  • Rocket Interceptor pilots had to be capable of taking all the punishment their ships could dish out.

    Pushbutton War Joseph P. Martino
  • They will make a dish out of almost any of the herbs of the field, or of birds, beasts, or creeping things.

    Fred Markham in Russia W. H. G. Kingston
  • Know how to make up a dish out of what was left over from the meals of the day before.

  • "dish out the bunny," said Slops, putting down his mug with a reckless look.

    The Varmint Owen Johnson
  • I thanked the cook and proceeded to dish out some of the rice whose grayish color aroused Zulime's distrust.

British Dictionary definitions for dish out

dish out

verb (informal)
(transitive, adverb) to distribute
dish it out, to inflict punishment: he can't take it, but he can sure dish it out


a container used for holding or serving food, esp an open shallow container of pottery, glass, etc
the food that is served or contained in a dish
a particular article or preparation of food: a local fish dish
Also called dishful. the amount contained in a dish
something resembling a dish, esp in shape
a concavity or depression
(informal) an attractive person
(informal) something that one particularly enjoys or excels in
verb (transitive)
to put into a dish
to make hollow or concave
(Brit, informal) to ruin or spoil: he dished his chances of getting the job
See also dish out, dish up
Derived Forms
dishlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English disc, from Latin discus quoit, see disc
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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Word Origin and History for dish out



Old English disc "plate, bowl, platter," from Latin discus "dish, platter, quoit," from Greek diskos "disk, platter" (see disk). A common West Germanic borrowing; Old High German borrowed the word as tisc "plate," but German tisch now means "table," in common with other later Romanic forms (e.g. Italian desco, French dais). Meaning "particular variety of food served" is first recorded mid-15c. Meaning "what one likes" is c.1900; that of "attractive woman" is 1920s. Meaning "concave reflector or antenna" attested from 1948.



"to serve food," late 14c., from dish (n.). Meaning "to disparage, denigrate" first recorded 1940s; probably from the same notion in figurative dish it out "administer punishment" (1934). Related: Dished; dishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for dish out

dish out

verb phrase

  1. To distribute; issue: The brand of drool they dished out/ What line are they dishing up today?
  2. To inflict; give: They dished her out a horrid trouncing (1652+)



  1. A particularly attractive woman: This was going to be my favorite dish/ I love this book and I think its 80-year-old author is a dish (1920s+)
  2. A person or thing that one especially likes; what exactly meets one's taste; one's CUP OF TEA: Now, there is a book that is just my dish (1900+)
  3. The home plate of the baseball diamond (1907+ Baseball)


  1. Gossip; an item of gossip; to disparage; denigrate; dis: The President-elect played on the beach while his snobby neighbors dished/ We have no reason to do an anti-CBS film. There's no dishin' going on here (1940s+)
  2. To cheat; thwart: I'm afraid that blackguard has dished us again (1798+)
  3. To gossip; have an intimate chat; dish the dirt: She sat and dished with the girls/ Now I feel free to dish about First Hair (1920s+)
  4. (also dish out) To give; purvey: He took everything we gave and dished it right back (1641+)
  5. To pass the ball: A goateed Magic in butt-tight shorts twists, whirls and dishes through his career as maestro of five NBA championships (1970s+ Basketball)
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 dish out

dish out

Deal out, dispense, as in He dishes out advice to one and all. This expression alludes to serving food from a dish. ]; first half of 1600s]
dish it out. Dispense abuse or punishment, as in He can dish it out with the best of them, but he can't take it. [ ; c. 1930 ]


also see:
also see under:
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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