Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective \ˈdər-tē\

Simple Definition of dirty

  • : not clean

  • : indecent and offensive

  • : relating to sex in an indecent or offensive way

Full Definition of dirty


  1. 1 a :  not clean or pure <dirty clothes> b :  likely to befoul or defile with dirt <dirty jobs> c :  contaminated with infecting organisms <dirty wounds> d :  containing impurities <dirty coal>

  2. 2 a :  morally unclean or corrupt: as (1) :  indecent, vulgar <dirty jokes> <a dirty movie> (2) :  dishonorable, base <a dirty trick> (3) :  unsportsmanlike <dirty players> b :  acquired by disreputable or illegal means :  ill-gotten <dirty money> c :  disagreeable, distasteful, or objectionable but usually necessary (as in achieving a desired result) <hired a thug to do their dirty work>

  3. 3 a :  abominable, hateful <war is a dirty business> b :  highly regrettable <a dirty shame> c :  likely to cause disgrace or scandal <dirty little secrets>

  4. 4 :  foggy, stormy <dirty weather>

  5. 5 a of color :  not clear and bright :  dullish <dirty blond> b :  characterized by a husky, rasping, or raw tonal quality <dirty trumpet tones>

  6. 6 :  conveying ill-natured resentment <gave him a dirty look>

dirt·i·ly play \ˈdər-tə-lē\ adverb
dirt·i·ness play \ˈdər-tē-nəs\ noun

Examples of dirty

  1. All my socks are dirty.

  2. Try not to get your clothes dirty.

  3. I can't breathe this dirty city air.

  4. The baby has a dirty diaper.

  5. I hate listening to his dirty jokes.

14th Century

First Known Use of dirty

14th century

Synonym Discussion of dirty

dirty, filthy, foul, nasty, squalid mean conspicuously unclean or impure. dirty emphasizes the presence of dirt more than an emotional reaction to it <a dirty littered street>. filthy carries a strong suggestion of offensiveness and typically of gradually accumulated dirt that begrimes and besmears <a stained greasy floor, utterly filthy>. foul implies extreme offensiveness and an accumulation of what is rotten or stinking <a foul-smelling open sewer>. nasty applies to what is actually foul or is repugnant to one expecting freshness, cleanliness, or sweetness <it's a nasty job to clean up after a sick cat>. In practice, nasty is often weakened to the point of being no more than a synonym of unpleasant or disagreeable <had a nasty fall> <his answer gave her a nasty shock>. squalid adds to the idea of dirtiness and filth that of slovenly neglect <squalid slums>. All these terms are also applicable to moral uncleanness or baseness or obscenity. dirty then stresses meanness or despicableness <don't ask me to do your dirty work>, while filthy and foul describe disgusting obscenity or loathsome behavior <filthy street language> <a foul story of lust and greed>, and nasty implies a peculiarly offensive unpleasantness <a stand-up comedian known for nasty humor>. Distinctively, squalid implies sordidness as well as baseness and dirtiness <engaged in a series of squalid affairs>.

Rhymes with dirty




Simple Definition of dirty

  • : in an unfair or dishonest way

  • : in an indecent or offensive way

Full Definition of dirty


  1. :  in a dirty manner: as a :  deceptively, underhandedly <fight dirty> b :  indecently <talk dirty>

Examples of dirty

  1. Watch out for her. She plays dirty.

  2. He usually wins because he fights dirty.

Circa 1931

First Known Use of dirty

circa 1931




Simple Definition of dirty

  • : to make (something) dirty

Full Definition of dirty


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to make dirty

  3. 2 a :  to stain with dishonor :  sully b :  to debase by distorting the real nature of

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to become soiled

Examples of dirty

  1. Take off your shoes to keep from dirtying the floor.

  2. Her fingers were dirtied with ink.


First Known Use of dirty


Medical Dictionary


adjective \ˈdərt-ē\

Medical Definition of dirty


  1. :  contaminated with infecting organisms <dirty wounds>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up dirty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet pince-nez kittly-benders spindrift
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.