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.

Nearby words

  1. dirty one's hands,
  2. dirty pool,
  3. dirty realism,
  4. dirty rice,
  5. dirty trick,
  6. dirty war,
  7. dirty word,
  8. dirty work,
  9. dirty-minded,
  10. dis

Origin of dirty tricks

First recorded in 1970–75

Related formsdirt·y-trick·er·y [dur-tee-trik-uh-ree] /ˈdɜr tiˈtrɪk ə ri/, noundirt·y-tricks, adjectivedirt·y-trick·ster [dur-tee-trik-ster] /ˈdɜr tiˈtrɪk stər/, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for dirty trick

dirty trick

noun

a malicious and contemptible action
(plural)
  1. underhand activity and machinations in political or governmental affairs
  2. (as modifier)dirty-tricks operation
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

Idioms and Phrases with dirty trick

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.