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  1. any foul or filthy substance, as mud, grime, dust, or excrement.
  2. earth or soil, especially when loose.
  3. something or someone vile, mean, or worthless: After that last outburst of hers I thought she was dirt.
  4. moral filth; vileness; corruption.
  5. obscene or lewd language: to talk dirt.
  6. Informal. gossip, especially of a malicious, lurid, or scandalous nature: Tell me all the latest dirt.
  7. private or personal information which if made public would create a scandal or ruin the reputation of a person, company, etc.
  8. Mining.
    1. crude, broken ore or waste.
    2. (in placer mining) the material from which gold is separated by washing.
  1. do (someone) dirt. dirty(def 18).
  2. eat dirt, Informal. to accept blame, guilt, criticism, or insults without complaint; humble or abase oneself: The prosecutor seemed determined to make the defendant eat dirt.

Origin of dirt

1250–1300; Middle English dirt, drit; cognate with Old Norse drit excrement; compare Old English drītan

Synonyms for dirt

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dirt

Contemporary Examples of dirt

Historical Examples of dirt

  • They were putting on outer clothes from the store-room to protect them from the dirt and damp.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Dick, vaguely conscious of damp and dirt, went up to his bedroom.


    William J. Locke

  • But ye kin ride, b'y; so dirt don't count; clean ridin's the thing.


    W. A. Fraser

  • We worked in gangs of six, digging and passing up the dirt into the night-tubs.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • In some places there are high mounds of dirt outside the city wall.

British Dictionary definitions for dirt


  1. any unclean substance, such as mud, dust, excrement, etc; filth
  2. loose earth; soil
    1. packed earth, gravel, cinders, etc, used to make a racetrack
    2. (as modifier)a dirt track
  3. mining the gravel or soil from which minerals are extracted
  4. a person or thing regarded as worthless
  5. obscene or indecent speech or writing
  6. slang gossip; scandalous information
  7. moral corruption
  8. do someone dirt slang to do something vicious to someone
  9. dish the dirt informal to spread malicious gossip
  10. eat dirt slang to accept insult without complaining
  11. treat someone like dirt to have no respect or consideration for someone

Word Origin for dirt

C13: from Old Norse drit excrement; related to Middle Dutch drēte
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 dirt

15c. metathesis of Middle English drit, drytt "mud, dirt, dung" (c.1300), from Old Norse drit, cognate with Old English dritan "to void excrement," from Proto-Germanic *dritanan (cf. Dutch drijten, Old High German trizan).

Used abusively of persons from c.1300. Meaning "gossip" first attested 1926 (in Hemingway); dirt bike is 1960s. Dirt-cheap is from 1821. Dirt road attested by 1852.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dirt


In addition to the idiom beginning with dirt

  • dirt cheap
  • dirty joke
  • dirty look, give a
  • dirty one's hands
  • dirty tricks
  • dirty work

also see:

  • dig up (dirt)
  • dish the dirt
  • eat crow (dirt)
  • hit the deck (dirt)
  • pay dirt
  • treat like dirt

Also see underdirty.

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