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From Middle English dirti, alteration of earlier dritti, equivalent to dirt +‎ -y. Cognate with Middle Low German drēterich (dirty). See also drite.



dirty (comparative dirtier, superlative dirtiest)

  1. Unclean; covered with or containing unpleasant substances such as dirt or grime.
    Synonyms: filthy, soiled, sordid, unclean, unwashed; see also Thesaurus:unclean
    Antonyms: clean; see also Thesaurus:clean
    Despite a walk in the rain, my shoes weren't too dirty.
    • 1905, George Bernard Shaw, The author's apology from Mrs. Warren's Profession, page 61:
      Many persons are more comfortable when they are dirty than when they are clean; but that does not recommend dirt as a national policy.
  2. That makes one unclean; corrupting, infecting.
    Don't put that in your mouth, dear. It's dirty.
  3. Morally unclean; obscene or indecent, especially sexually.
    Synonyms: indecent, lewd, obscene, raunchy, salacious
    At the reception, Uncle Nick got drunk and told dirty jokes to the bridesmaids.
    • 2023 May 13, Kitty Drake, “This is how we do it: ‘A tired, throwaway midweek shag doesn’t interest me’”, in The Guardian[1], →ISSN:
      We have quite a playful and fun relationship in general, but it’s still surprising how dirty our sex can be in the things we say or do or pretend. We often laugh about it afterwards.
  4. Dishonourable; violating accepted standards or rules.
    Synonyms: cheating, foul, unsporting, unsportsmanlike
    Antonym: sportsmanlike
    He might have scored, but it was a dirty trick that won him the penalty.
    • 1915, C.J. Dennis, The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, published 1916, page 13:
      The world 'as got me snouted jist a treat; Crool Forchin's dirty left 'as smote me soul.
    • 2013 June 21, Oliver Burkeman, “The tao of tech”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 2, page 27:
      The dirty secret of the internet is that all this distraction and interruption is immensely profitable. [] Partly, this is a result of how online advertising has traditionally worked: advertisers pay for clicks, and a click is a click, however it's obtained.
  5. Corrupt, illegal, or improper.
    Synonyms: base, dishonest, dishonorable, filthy, despicable, lousy, mean, sordid, unethical, vile
    I won't accept your dirty money!
  6. Out of tune.
    You need to tune that guitar: the G string sounds dirty.
  7. Of color, discolored by impurities.
    Synonyms: dingy, dullish, muddied, muddy
    Antonyms: bright, pure
    The old flag was a dirty white.
  8. (computing) Containing data needing to be written back to memory or disk.
    Occasionally it reads the sector into a dirty buffer, which means it needs to sync the dirty buffer first.
    • 2008, Stephen R. G. Fraser, Real World ASP.NET: Building a Content Management System, page 105:
      Notice that an asterisk has been added to the filename in the edit window tabs. This is a simple reminder that the file is “dirty” and needs saving.
  9. (slang) Carrying illegal drugs among one's possessions or inside of one's bloodstream.
    None of y'all get into my car if you're dirty.
  10. (informal) Used as an intensifier, especially in conjunction with "great".
    He lives in a dirty great mansion.
  11. Sleety; gusty; stormy.
    dirty weather
  12. (slang) Of an alcoholic beverage, especially a cocktail or mixed drink: served with the juice of olives.
    Antonym: neat
    dirty martini
  13. Of food, indulgent in an unhealthy way.
    The waiter served dirty burgers to the customers.
    • 2003, Tom Christiansen, Nathan Torkington, Perl Cookbook, page xix:
      You can call it quick-and-dirty if you like, but there are billions of dollars out there riding on the supposition that fast food is not necessarily dirty food.
    • 2019, Oliver Berry, Fionn Davenport, Lonely Planet England:
      Piled high and oozing all the trimmings, the dirty burgers here are decidedly good – spice things up with jalapeños, brie or a seriously sticky BBQ sauce.
    • 2020, Mellissa Sevigny, Squeaky Clean Keto: Next Level Keto to Hack Your Health, Victory Belt Publishing, →ISBN, page 13:
      Dirty keto refers to an approach that follows the typical keto macro ratios, but the components include “dirty” foods like fast food, packaged convenience foods, processed meats, artificially sweetened diet sodas and sports drinks, and unhealthy []
  14. Spreading harmful radiation over a wide area.
    a dirty explosion
  15. (aviation) Having the undercarriage or flaps in the down position.
    Antonym: clean

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


dirty (comparative more dirty, superlative most dirty)

  1. In a dirty manner.
    Synonyms: deceptively, dirtily, indecently, underhandedly
    to play dirty

Derived terms[edit]



dirty (third-person singular simple present dirties, present participle dirtying, simple past and past participle dirtied)

  1. (transitive) To make (something) dirty.
    Synonyms: soil, taint; see also Thesaurus:dirty
  2. (transitive) To stain or tarnish (somebody) with dishonor.
    Synonym: sully
  3. (transitive) To debase by distorting the real nature of (something).
  4. (intransitive) To become soiled.
    • 1960 March, “Talking of Trains: S.R. signalling innovation”, in Trains Illustrated, page 135:
      The markers for the slow line signals have been arranged at cab level, but for the inner fast lines they have had to be kept low in the "six-foot", with the result that they tend to be badly dirtied by passing traffic.

Derived terms[edit]

  • dirty down