dirty joke


A smutty story, as in Teenagers love to tell dirty jokes. The use of dirty in the sense of “obscene” or “indecent” dates from the late 1500s, but its application to a joke began only in the 20th century. The same sense also appears in such expressions as dirty book, for a pornographic book; dirty old man, for a middle-aged or elderly lecher; and dirty word or talk dirty, for a lewd, offensive expression or sexually explicit conversation.

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