See more synonyms for dust on Thesaurus.com
  1. earth or other matter in fine, dry particles.
  2. a cloud of finely powdered earth or other matter in the air.
  3. any finely powdered substance, as sawdust.
  4. the ground; the earth's surface.
  5. the substance to which something, as the dead human body, is ultimately reduced by disintegration or decay; earthly remains.
  6. British.
    1. ashes, refuse, etc.
    2. junk1(def 1).
  7. a low or humble condition.
  8. anything worthless.
  9. disturbance; turmoil.
  10. gold dust.
  11. the mortal body of a human being.
  12. a single particle or grain.
  13. Archaic. money; cash.
verb (used with object)
  1. to wipe the dust from: to dust a table.
  2. to sprinkle with a powder or dust: to dust rosebushes with an insecticide.
  3. to strew or sprinkle (a powder, dust, or other fine particles): to dust insecticide on a rosebush.
  4. to soil with dust; make dusty.
verb (used without object)
  1. to wipe dust from furniture, woodwork, etc.
  2. to become dusty.
  3. to apply dust or powder to a plant, one's body, etc.: to dust with an insecticide in late spring.
  1. bite the dust,
    1. to be killed, especially in battle; die.
    2. to suffer defeat; be unsuccessful; fail: Another manufacturer has bitten the dust.
  2. dust off,
    1. Baseball.(of a pitcher) to throw the ball purposely at or dangerously close to (the batter).
    2. to take out or prepare for use again, as after a period of inactivity or storage: I'm going to dust off my accounting skills and try to get a job in the finance department.
    3. to beat up badly: The gang of hoodlums dusted off a cop.
  3. leave one in the dust, to overtake and surpass a competitor or one who is less ambitious, qualified, etc.: Don't be so meek, they'll leave you in the dust.
  4. lick the dust,
    1. to be killed; die.
    2. to humble oneself abjectly; grovel: He will resign rather than lick the dust.
  5. make the dust fly, to execute with vigor or speed: We turned them loose on the work, and they made the dust fly.
  6. shake the dust from one's feet, to depart in anger or disdain; leave decisively or in haste, especially from an unpleasant situation: As the country moved toward totalitarianism, many of the intelligentsia shook the dust from their feet.
  7. throw dust in someone's eyes, to mislead; deceive: He threw dust in our eyes by pretending to be a jeweler and then disappeared with the diamonds.

Origin of dust

before 900; Middle English; Old English dūst; cognate with German Dunst vapor
Related formsdust·less, adjectivere·dust, verb (used with object)un·dust·ed, adjectivewell-dust·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dust

Contemporary Examples of dust

Historical Examples of dust

British Dictionary definitions for dust


  1. dry fine powdery material, such as particles of dirt, earth or pollen
  2. a cloud of such fine particles
  3. the powdery particles to which something is thought to be reduced by death, decay, or disintegration
    1. the mortal body of man
    2. the corpse of a dead person
  4. the earth; ground
  5. informal a disturbance; fuss (esp in the phrases kick up a dust, raise a dust)
  6. something of little or no worth
  7. informal (in mining parlance) silicosis or any similar respiratory disease
  8. short for gold dust
  9. ashes or household refuse
  10. bite the dust
    1. to fail completely or cease to exist
    2. to fall down dead
  11. dust and ashes something that is very disappointing
  12. leave someone or something in the dust to outdo someone or something comprehensively or with easeleaving their competitors in the dust
  13. shake the dust off one's feet to depart angrily or contemptuously
  14. throw dust in the eyes of to confuse or mislead
  1. (tr) to sprinkle or cover (something) with (dust or some other powdery substance)to dust a cake with sugar; to dust sugar onto a cake
  2. to remove dust by wiping, sweeping, or brushing
  3. archaic to make or become dirty with dust
See also dust down, dust-up
Derived Formsdustless, adjective

Word Origin for dust

Old English dūst; related to Danish dyst flour dust, Middle Dutch dūst dust, meal dust, Old High German tunst storm
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 dust

Old English dust, from Proto-Germanic *dunstaz (cf. Old High German tunst "storm, breath," German Dunst "mist, vapor," Danish dyst "milldust," Dutch duist), from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, smoke, vapor" (cf. Sanskrit dhu- "shake," Latin fumus "smoke"). Meaning "that to which living matter decays" was in Old English, hence, figuratively, "mortal life."


c.1200, "to rise as dust;" later "to sprinkle with dust" (1590s) and "to rid of dust" (1560s); from dust (n.). Related: Dusted; dusting. Sense of "to kill" is U.S. slang first recorded 1938 (cf. bite the dust under bite (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dust


In addition to the idiom beginning with dust

  • dust off

also see:

  • bite the dust
  • dry as dust
  • in the dust
  • make the dust fly
  • shake the dust from one's feet
  • throw dust in someone's eyes
  • watch my dust
  • when the dust has settled
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.