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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 dishes
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Pop was putting away the dishes, and Jud was scrubbing out the sink.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • He lights his pipe, and many an evening he helps me with the dishes.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Then it's settled that you do the cooking and I wash the dishes?

  • A ridin' that sorrel mut, too, when she ought to be in the house washin' dishes.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Lizzie, carrying a tray of dishes, came into the hall as he opened the door.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
British Dictionary definitions for dishes


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 dishes



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 dishes



  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 dishes


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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