Dust Bowl

[ duhst-bohl ]
/ ˈdʌst ˌboʊl /


a period, throughout the 1930s, when waves of severe drought and dust storms in the North American prairies occurred, having devastating consequences for the residents, livestock, and agriculture there: When the Dust Bowl began, the Great Depression was already underway—it was one disaster on top of another.
the region that suffered from these waves of drought and dust storms, including the entire U.S. Midwest and, in Canada, the southern prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan: Our Oklahoma panhandle was smack dab in the center of that heartless Dust Bowl.
(lowercase) any similar dry region elsewhere: Where we see the tragic formation of dust bowls in Asia and Africa, overgrazing is believed to be the main culprit.



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Origin of Dust Bowl

An Americanism dating back to 1935–40
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for Dust Bowl (1 of 2)

dust bowl


a semiarid area in which the surface soil is exposed to wind erosion and dust storms occur

British Dictionary definitions for Dust Bowl (2 of 2)

Dust Bowl


the Dust Bowl the area of the south central US that became denuded of topsoil by wind erosion during the droughts of the mid-1930s
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

Cultural definitions for Dust Bowl

Dust Bowl

A parched region of the Great Plains, including parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, where a combination of drought and soil erosion created enormous dust storms in the 1930s. The novel The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, describes the plight of the “Okies” and “Arkies” uprooted by the drought and forced to migrate to California.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.