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  1. a long, narrow excavation made in the ground by digging, as for draining or irrigating land; trench.
  2. any open passage or trench, as a natural channel or waterway.
verb (used with object)
  1. to dig a ditch or ditches in or around.
  2. to derail (a train) or drive or force (an automobile, bus, etc.) into a ditch.
  3. to crash-land on water and abandon (an airplane).
  4. Slang.
    1. to get rid of: I ditched that old hat of yours.
    2. to escape from: He ditched the cops by driving down an alley.
    3. to absent oneself from (school or a class) without permission or an acceptable reason.
verb (used without object)
  1. to dig a ditch.
  2. (of an aircraft or its crew) to crash-land in water and abandon the sinking aircraft.
  3. Slang. to be truant; play hooky.

Origin of ditch

before 900; 1940–45 for def 5, 1885–90 for def 6, 1955–60 for def 9; Middle English dich, Old English dīc; cognate with German Teich. See dike1
Related formsditch·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ditch

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • His mind had been so preoccupied that he had forgotten about the ditch.

  • I went racing, but a half mile north I skidded into the ditch.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • Good Indian took one long step over the ditch, and went on steadily.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • Upon which he bid the postillion alight, and look into the ditch.

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1

    Henry Fielding

  • How many times I used to have bets with my cousins that I would jump that ditch!

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for ditch


  1. a narrow channel dug in the earth, usually used for drainage, irrigation, or as a boundary marker
  2. any small, natural waterway
  3. Irish a bank made of earth excavated from and placed alongside a drain or stream
  4. informal either of the gutters at the side of a tenpin bowling lane
  5. last ditch a last resort or place of last defence
  1. to make a ditch or ditches in (a piece of ground)
  2. (intr) to edge with a ditch
  3. informal to crash or be crashed, esp deliberately, as to avoid more unpleasant circumstanceshe had to ditch the car
  4. (tr) slang to abandon or discardto ditch a girlfriend
  5. informal to land (an aircraft) on water in an emergency
  6. (tr) US slang to evadeto ditch the police
Derived Formsditcher, nounditchless, adjective

Word Origin

Old English dīc; related to Old Saxon dīk, Old Norse dīki, Middle High German tīch dyke, pond, Latin fīgere to stick, see dyke 1


noun NZ
  1. the Ditch an informal name for the Tasman Sea
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

Word Origin and History for ditch


Old English dic "ditch, dike," a variant of dike (q.v.). Last ditch (1715) refers to the last line of military defenses.


late 14c., "surround with a ditch; dig a ditch;" from ditch (n.). Meaning "to throw into a ditch" is from 1816, hence sense of "abandon, discard," first recorded 1899 in American English. Of aircraft, by 1941. Related: Ditched; ditching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with ditch


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.