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.
- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use dirty tricks in a sentence
Physical attacks and death threats were followed by somewhat subtler dirty tricks, known in Ukraine politics as “black PR.”
The BND, however, has more restrictions on engaging in these kinds of dirty tricks.One Big Reason The CIA Spied on Germany: Worries About Russian Moles in Berlin | Eli Lake | July 12, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Who could approve of the FBI using extreme dirty tricks to encourage Martin Luther King to commit suicide?The Domestic Spying of Hoover’s FBI Is an Eerie Prequel to the NSA’s Snooping Today | Betty Medsger | March 23, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Their fight involved propaganda, surveillance, and a plethora of dirty tricks.
Republicans specialize in accusing opponents of the dirty tricks they themselves are doing—or planning to do.Michael Tomasky on Mitt Romney’s Character Assassination Game | Michael Tomasky | May 19, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
But as Jimmy walked away, he said: Rand, dirty tricks dont pay.
I could beat him up, and I once threatened to do it; but that would not stop him from attempting these dirty tricks.
He knew that the fellow had played you some dirty tricks, and he decided he would keep an eye on him.
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
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.