dirty tricks

See synonyms for: dirty%20tricksdirty%20trick on Thesaurus.com

plural nounInformal.
  1. Politics. unethical or illegal campaign practices or pranks intended to disrupt or sabotage the campaigns of opposing candidates.

  2. any similar practices carried out against rival countries or corporations for espionage or commercial purposes.

Origin of dirty tricks

First recorded in 1970–75

Other words from dirty tricks

  • dirt·y-trick·er·y [dur-tee-trik-uh-ree], /ˈdɜr tiˈtrɪk ə ri/, noun
  • dirty-tricks, adjective
  • dirt·y-trick·ster [dur-tee-trik-ster], /ˈdɜr tiˈtrɪk stər/, noun

Words Nearby dirty tricks

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use dirty tricks in a sentence

  • But as Jimmy walked away, he said: Rand, dirty tricks dont pay.

    The Flying Reporter | Lewis E. (Lewis Edwin) Theiss
  • I could beat him up, and I once threatened to do it; but that would not stop him from attempting these dirty tricks.

    The Flying Reporter | Lewis E. (Lewis Edwin) Theiss
  • He knew that the fellow had played you some dirty tricks, and he decided he would keep an eye on him.

    The Flying Reporter | Lewis E. (Lewis Edwin) Theiss
  • Would ye seek to persuade Martin Burney into the dirty tricks of an indecent Dago?

    Sixes and Sevens | O. Henry
  • I don't mean that they commit legal swindles, but merely what may be called dirty tricks.

    Town Life in Australia | R. E. N. (Richard) Twopeny

Other Idioms and Phrases with dirty tricks

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.