a long, narrow excavation made in the ground by digging, as for draining or irrigating land; trench.
any open passage or trench, as a natural channel or waterway.

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

Origin of ditch

before 900; 1940–45 for def 5, 1885–90 for def 6, 1955–60 for def 9; Middle English dich, Old English dīc; cognate with German Teich. See dike1
Related formsditch·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ditch

Contemporary Examples of ditch

Historical Examples of ditch

  • His mind had been so preoccupied that he had forgotten about the ditch.

  • I went racing, but a half mile north I skidded into the ditch.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • Good Indian took one long step over the ditch, and went on steadily.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • Upon which he bid the postillion alight, and look into the ditch.

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1

    Henry Fielding

  • How many times I used to have bets with my cousins that I would jump that ditch!

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for ditch



a narrow channel dug in the earth, usually used for drainage, irrigation, or as a boundary marker
any small, natural waterway
Irish a bank made of earth excavated from and placed alongside a drain or stream
informal either of the gutters at the side of a tenpin bowling lane
last ditch a last resort or place of last defence


to make a ditch or ditches in (a piece of ground)
(intr) to edge with a ditch
informal to crash or be crashed, esp deliberately, as to avoid more unpleasant circumstanceshe had to ditch the car
(tr) slang to abandon or discardto ditch a girlfriend
informal to land (an aircraft) on water in an emergency
(tr) US slang to evadeto ditch the police
Derived Formsditcher, nounditchless, adjective

Word Origin for ditch

Old English dīc; related to Old Saxon dīk, Old Norse dīki, Middle High German tīch dyke, pond, Latin fīgere to stick, see dyke 1


noun NZ

the Ditch an informal name for the Tasman Sea
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 ditch

Old English dic "ditch, dike," a variant of dike (q.v.). Last ditch (1715) refers to the last line of military defenses.


late 14c., "surround with a ditch; dig a ditch;" from ditch (n.). Meaning "to throw into a ditch" is from 1816, hence sense of "abandon, discard," first recorded 1899 in American English. Of aircraft, by 1941. Related: Ditched; ditching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with ditch


see last-ditch effort.

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