Definition of dirt in English:


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  • 1A substance, such as mud or dust, that soils someone or something.

    ‘his face was covered in dirt’
    • ‘And these items are all covered in dust and dirt from the construction, and now sit on my windowsill.’
    • ‘I was fully dressed, my pants stained brown with dirt and dust.’
    • ‘The use of polythene cover protects it from wear and tear, dirt and dust, moisture and stains etc., and also avoids too much folding of the pages.’
    • ‘The inside needs to be free from dust bunnies, dirt, gravel, and pet dander - even if you end up buying a furry case.’
    • ‘His face was rather dirty, his nose smudged with dust and dirt, but he looked like he was enjoying himself nonetheless.’
    • ‘Three and a half months worth of dust, dirt and sand needs to be shaken from our tents, the van and rucksacks.’
    • ‘Looking closer, she saw that he bore the Seal of Royalty, covered mostly by dirt and dust from the long journey.’
    • ‘I looked down at my clothes and saw that my dark green shirt was covered with dirt and dust as well as my long dark green skirt.’
    • ‘The jeans had been stretched to the limit and were covered in dirt and dust, not to mention her top, which was in the same condition.’
    • ‘The textile cover protects the car against dirt, dust and sunlight, among other things, until the cover is removed.’
    • ‘Blackened and degraded by centuries of dust and dirt, they emerged in a remarkable state of preservation that gives an excellent idea of their intended flamboyance.’
    • ‘He wiped the red dirt from his face and struggled to catch his breath.’
    • ‘A gray tarp, ragged and covered with dry, caked dirt fell open in her hands.’
    • ‘He told me quietly as he bent down to brush some dirt off his pants.’
    • ‘"Thanks doll face, " I said with a grin before wiping some dirt off my pants.’
    • ‘The boy hesitated, wiping the dirt on his face.’
    • ‘"Oh, Chris, " Lorna said, brushing dirt off her pants.’
    • ‘Another tear escapes, tracing clean a second path through the accumulated dirt on his face.’
    • ‘The mile ended and the eight were covered in red dirt and breathing heavily.’
    • ‘Altair picked himself up from the ground, brushing the dirt from his coat.’
    grime, dust, soot, smut
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    1. 1.1Loose soil or earth; the ground.
      ‘the soldier sagged to the dirt’
      • ‘And this included not only the governments, but children who attend school sitting on the ground in the dirt.’
      • ‘Her shoulders drooped and she looked down at the dusty ground, idly making a line in the loose dirt with her foot.’
      • ‘I fell, but I grabbed at the edge and just caught it, but I soon realized that the dirt and ground in the area of the ravine we were in was loose.’
      • ‘His wings dragged a little on the ground, catching the dirt and dead leaves, and his head fell back on Jonathon's shoulder.’
      • ‘He scoffed and rested his cheek back on the dirt of the ground.’
      • ‘It seemed obligatory that every country airport have at least one of each sinking into the dirt somewhere on the grounds.’
      • ‘He finished his cigarette and ground it into the dirt with his boot.’
      • ‘The two rolled on the ground in the dirt before coming to a stopped.’
      • ‘A black boot-heel ground it into the dirt, crushing the spark to lifelessness.’
      • ‘After both of his feet had set ground onto the dirt, the window disappeared.’
      • ‘I scanned the mountain path with the balls of my feet grounding the dirt, ready to jump at any moment.’
      • ‘With a curse, he dropped back to the ground and examined the dirt at his feet.’
      • ‘He hopped out of the pilot's seat and kicked open the door, jumping down to the dirt and hitting the ground running.’
      • ‘Her body fell forwards and her head collided with the loose dirt.’
      • ‘Her hands clenched into fists against the loose dirt and she dropped her head in defeat.’
      • ‘My eyes focused on the yard, and the giant Welshman in the dirt throwing loads of soil with a shovel.’
      • ‘Ford ran over and started brushing away the loose dirt in front of her.’
      • ‘A blanket of loose, brown dirt covered the freshly dug hole, sealing its contents from the world.’
      • ‘Her bare feet padded against the packed dirt of the forest floor and her cotton skirt billowed out behind her.’
      • ‘She slammed her fists into the ground, tears falling onto the soft dirt.’
    2. 1.2usually as modifier Earth used to make a surface for a road, floor, or other area of ground.
      ‘a dirt road’
      • ‘The dirt road down to the river passed by some clay banks.’
      • ‘There's this dirt road that is in almost every dream I have.’
      • ‘The 108-mile dirt road from Buchanan to Greenville has been upgraded to a four-lane highway allowing logging to continue every day of the year.’
      • ‘California Highway Patrol and National Park Service helicopters spotted at least eight other vehicles off highways and dirt roads.’
      • ‘Ten to 12 hour trips on dirt roads in 4WDs or trucks are unheard of.’
      • ‘It's possible you could take this dirt road and eventually end up on Interstate 95 or U.S. route 1.’
      • ‘The short six-mile loop offers stretches of dirt road for passing and technical singletrack that runs along cliff edges.’
      • ‘That is up to 5,000 illegal aliens a year who must first cross this rugged border in the hills and then they must sneak across this dirt road.’
      • ‘‘Once you're outside the capital it's all dirt roads and most houses don't have electricity,’ he said.’
      • ‘It's a place of dirt roads and galvanised iron shacks.’
      • ‘We had walkie-talkies to ensure that nobody got lost on the long journeys down dirt roads between preaching engagements.’
      • ‘Motorists leave huge clouds of dust behind them as they drive along the village's narrow dirt roads in the dry season.’
      • ‘Before the arrival of the railways in 1850, travel in India meant months of struggle over primitive dirt roads.’
      • ‘Larry wanted to give me a tour of his ranch, so we talked in his pickup, lurching down rutted dirt roads.’
      • ‘Brittany led Caleb and I down the dirt path and through the broken fence.’
      • ‘I pointed along a narrow dirt path that branched off the main access road.’
      • ‘As the trees lessened, Zeke and Jon reached the dirt path and stopped.’
      • ‘Empty cans, old rags and stained wet paper littered the uneven dirt floor.’
      • ‘He let her into a very ugly cell, with dirt for the ground.’
      • ‘Install a polyethylene vapor retarder, or equivalent material, over the dirt floor.’
      earth, soil, loam, clay, silt
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    3. 1.3
      short for dirt track
    4. 1.4 informal Excrement.
      • ‘a lawn covered in dog dirt’
      • ‘And broken vodka bottles, condoms, dog dirt and human excrement have turned the area into a menacing health hazard.’
      • ‘As well as the majority of streetlights not working, it is still deeply unpleasant due mainly to being overgrown, as well as being persistently covered with litter and dog dirt.’
      • ‘There are scenes with me cleaning up dog dirt in my glittering boots!’
      • ‘I haven't forgotten my roots in Glasgow, with the dingy tenements and the grass full of dog dirt, and there are parts of Middlesbrough which look as if they belong to the Dark Ages.’
      • ‘South Lakeland District Council actually plans to consult voters on whether they are prepared to pay more council tax to remove dog dirt from the district's pavements.’
      • ‘Local politics are about refuse collection and dog dirt, not the war with Iraq.’
      • ‘Acorn Rugby Club has tried to cut down possible injuries to players by building a fence to keep the playing area free from broken glass, needless dog dirt and people's rubbish.’
      • ‘Dog dirt does not have to be fresh to be infective.’
      • ‘Always pick up dog dirt and dispose of it sensibly’
      • ‘Bags filled with rubbish, permanently fixed rat traps and mounds of dog dirt are not sights you would want to see just metres away from Skipton High Street.’
      • ‘I can vouch there is more dog dirt in Renaissance Florence than the pathways around Windermere and Ambleside - and that takes some beating.’
      • ‘Now I know that in the parks around Islington, north London, dog dirt is a menace, but the countryside is almost entirely carpeted with excrement.’
      • ‘Listening to some people, Skipton is ‘not what it used to be’; it's a dirty, badly run, untidy town full of dog dirt.’
      • ‘The 19 year-old says she has to negotiate mounds of dog dirt whenever she visits Cliffe Castle with her toddler, Rosie.’
      • ‘And it wants to remind dog owners that it is an offence not to clear up after their pets and dog dirt is dangerous for children who may come into contact with it.’
      • ‘We have watched people - mainly adults - pick up dog dirt in a polythene bag and then when they think nobody is looking just throw it down.’
      • ‘Questions will be asked about the validity of some of the issues, such as people being asked to sniff and record traces of urine and count the amount of dog dirt.’
      • ‘The women said that they had intended to remove the dog dirt but felt frightened and shaken by the demand.’
      • ‘There was dog dirt smeared on the slides and the floor.’
      • ‘Along the route I noticed 4 separate lots of dog dirt fouling the pavement.’
      excrement, excreta, droppings, faeces, dung, manure, ordure
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    5. 1.5A state or quality of uncleanliness.
      ‘Pittsburgh used to be renowned for the sweat and dirt of industry’
      • ‘The very name Grimethorpe conjures up an picture of dirt, decay and desolation.’
      • ‘He also shows the underbelly of the city: its violence, flesh for hire, and atmosphere of poverty, dirt, and decay.’
      • ‘What point is there in spending a fortune in promoting Scotland as a country to visit and to do business in when the first impression is one of third-world dirt and squalor.’
      • ‘There is dirt and poverty all around, but the richness in the lives of these people, if different to that which Westerners broadly value, is undeniable.’
      • ‘SIR - Being born and bred in Bradford I am ashamed of the levels of dirt and filthiness in the Bradford 3 area.’
      • ‘A week later, it was a functioning hospital, an island of cleanliness and sanity in a sea of decay and dirt.’
      • ‘Last year we lost 10 marks for litter, weeds and general overall impression of dirt and neglect.’
      • ‘They didn't mention the monuments they'd seen or complain about the chaos and dirt.’
      • ‘Sharp, clever and prickly, Gwendolen reads the days away, oblivious to dirt and decay.’
      • ‘The dirt and grime of industrial toil has been largely replaced by white-collar jobs.’
      • ‘A visitor to the city just now would still have some impression of dirt and decay.’
      • ‘A sense, too, of something ancient and enduring that had managed to survive the poverty and dirt.’
      • ‘The facade is more than adequate, and the harsh reality of poverty and dirt all but invisible unless you take a wrong turn.’
      • ‘The dirt and the filthiness of the city and its open drains nauseate her.’
      • ‘The dirt and squalor and laziness in the country are beyond words.’
      • ‘The dirt and disorder at the café bothered David almost more than his own problems.’
      dirt, dirtiness, squalidness, filth, filthiness, grubbiness, grime, griminess, muck, muckiness, slumminess, foulness, vileness, poverty, wretchedness, dinginess, meanness, nastiness, seediness, shabbiness, sordidness, sleaziness, insalubrity, slovenliness, repulsiveness
      View synonyms
    6. 1.6 informal Gossip, especially information about someone's activities or private life that could prove damaging if revealed.
      • ‘is there any dirt on Desmond?’
      • ‘Readers need some information quickly - dirt on candidates before Election Day, for instance.’
      • ‘As you sidle up close you can hear voices swapping art world gossip, platitudes and dirt on various celebs, institutions and artists.’
      • ‘Truth is that some news agencies can't wait to get dirt on the military so they can embarrass the Bush administration.’
      • ‘She was merely retelling facts to me as I prodded her to give me dirt on all the celebs she had met whilst working in the UK.’
      • ‘Read up to find dirt on opponents; if there's nothing in the gossip pages, find weaknesses in their game.’
      • ‘‘There is an expectation that somebody, somewhere has got some dirt on him,’ said one senior MP menacingly.’
      • ‘But they got away with it, including the distribution to the press of dirt on Dr. King, picked up by secret FBI photo and wiretap.’
      • ‘In the novel Stark assigns narrator Jack Burden the task of uncovering dirt on the universally admired Judge Monty Irwin.’
      • ‘Nixon wanted dirt on Ellsberg, so his men dispatched a ham-fisted outfit to Los Angeles to see what Fielding had.’
      • ‘He has got on the public record a senior staffer saying that he spends his time, he occupies his time, digging dirt on me.’
      • ‘He gives us some behind the scenes dirt on all these contestants.’
      • ‘The first two were definite push polls. the first one was trying to dish dirt on a candidate for governor in North Carolina.’
      • ‘Anyway, Helen doesn't need to dig up dirt on the Maori party.’
      • ‘I don't know much about Garner, but I take it as a good sign that The Guardian has utterly failed to come up with any dirt on him.’
      • ‘Their political ploy is to deny knowledge of all accusations and try to throw dirt on their opposition hoping to deflect the media attention.’
      • ‘Pam gives the inside dirt on parliament and it's not pretty.’
      • ‘In the age of Drudge and various anti-Drudges, if you have dirt on a political opponent, you make sure it gets out.’
      • ‘But his opponents are reported to be digging for dirt on the actor, who has faced claims about his private life in the past.’
      • ‘It is situations like this that provide unwarranted dirt on local promoters, partygoers and the scene in general.’
      • ‘Well, I'll dig up more dirt on you, or I'll lie and say you did something really bad.’
      scandal, gossip, talk, revelations, rumour, rumours, tittle-tattle, tattle
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    7. 1.7 informal A worthless or contemptible person or thing.
      • ‘she treats him like dirt’
      • ‘One said: ‘She's got to get rid of him - he's got no respect for her and treats her like dirt.’’
      • ‘I can guess how it feels when you wish you didn't have to smoke and for all your good intentions to give up, everyone treats you like dirt anyway.’
      • ‘But what really strikes me about those people who have housekeepers, nannies, cleaners, gardeners and so on is how they boss them about, treat them like dirt and then complain about them.’
      • ‘People below you are treated like dirt and the people above you, you grovel to.’
      • ‘We have to be back in our rooms by nine p.m., the food is awful and the warden treats us like dirt.’
      • ‘In human terms, they may be the salt of the earth, but the corporate-driven system commonly treats them like dirt.’
      • ‘Is it right that you can improve your lifestyle by ripping someone off and treating them like dirt?’
      • ‘And despite my having done nothing to deserve it, the last couple of years he started treating me like dirt.’
      • ‘I think I accused John of driving him away and treating him like dirt.’
      • ‘And the people who were supposed to be concerned about me, had both treated me like dirt.’





    do someone dirt
    • Harm someone's reputation maliciously.

      • ‘As a rule of thumb, it is safe to assume that your subordinates, peers and superiors do not lie awake at night thinking up ways to do you dirt.’
      • ‘It is nothing more than the two men who did you dirt.’
      • ‘You never know if the guy you slam today will be in a position to do you dirt tomorrow.’
      • ‘She wanted to do her dirt and not get punished.’
      • ‘In a recent picture the leading lady tried to do me dirt exactly in this manner.’
      • ‘The desire is all too common to get even with those who do us dirt, those who get ahead of us and those who hate us.’
      • ‘Indeed, I am often madder at the critics who are trying to be kind than to those obviously out to do me dirt.’
      • ‘The developer did us dirt, but we are just fine now.’
      • ‘Even as hard as Omar pushed us all, we knew he would never do us dirt; the result was tremendous overwhelming loyalty.’
      • ‘Even as specific tests for various hereditary disease are developed, there is little chance anyone could access the results to do you dirt.’
    drag someone or something through the dirt
    • Give someone or something a bad reputation through bad behavior or damaging revelations.

      • ‘he condemned players for dragging the name of football through the dirt’
      • ‘He dragged my name through the dirt for no reason.’
      • ‘For her beliefs, angry mobs harassed her, hung her in effigy, and dragged her image through the streets, while the press dragged her name through the mud.’
      • ‘As commanding officer of the Scots Guards he told a pack of lies about Peter's murder and dragged his name through the dirt.’
    eat dirt
    • Suffer insults or humiliation.

      • ‘the film bombed at the box office and the critics made it eat dirt’
      • ‘Down in the garage, the Maranello worker bees buzz about tinkering with the F2002 model, which left the competition eating dirt, and fine-tuning an updated F2003 version which promises more of the same.’
      • ‘You can be rational and still find yourself eating dirt.’
      • ‘Considering he failed in a bid to become manager of Crawley Town shortly before arriving at Tynecastle, he can hardly be blamed for eating dirt at present.’
      • ‘The system forces the domestics to eat dirt for two years in hopes of getting into the country.’
      • ‘I think I got the laws of physics a bit wrong and I was eating dirt!’
      • ‘I'd be eating dirt if I just played in a band all the time.’
      • ‘When it came to the ‘A’ Final and a head-to-head with yours truly, he made a jet-propelled getaway and left me eating dirt.’
      • ‘But I couldn't stop because there was a part deep down inside of me, a voice in the back of my head that sounded remotely like my high pitched 10-year-old self that screamed at me to catch her and make her eat dirt.’
      • ‘Any government, any business, any individual who does not align himself with this undisputable reality will eat dirt.’
      • ‘I'm guessing this is what the author wanted her to do, just prostrate herself and eat dirt.’
    treat someone like dirt
    • Treat someone with a complete lack of respect.

      ‘back then we were treated as key workers and now we are being treated like dirt’
      • ‘I'm not standing by while you treat me like dirt!’


Middle English from Old Norse drit ‘excrement’, an early sense in English.