\ ˈdräs How to pronounce dross (audio) , ˈdrȯs \

Definition of dross

1 metallurgy : the scum or unwanted material that forms on the surface of molten metal
2 : waste or foreign matter : impurity
3 : something that is base (see base entry 3 sense 1), trivial, or inferior There is quite a lot of dross on TV these days. a talent for turning literary dross into gold

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Other Words from dross

drossy \ ˈdrä-​sē How to pronounce drossy (audio) , ˈdrȯ-​ \ adjective

Did You Know?

Dross has been a part of the English language since Anglo-Saxon times; one 19th-century book on Old English vocabulary dates it back to 1050 A.D. Its Old English ancestors are related to Germanic and Scandinavian words for "dregs" (as in "the dregs of the coffee") - and, like "dregs," dross is a word for the less-than-desirable parts of something. Over the years, the relative worthlessness of dross has often been set in contrast to the value of gold, as for example in British poet Christina Rossetti's "The Lowest Room": "Besides, those days were golden days, / Whilst these are days of dross" (1875).

Examples of dross in a Sentence

There is quite a lot of dross on TV these days. His editor has a talent for turning literary dross into gold.
Recent Examples on the Web Peruvians could already throw out the dross, and often did. The Economist, "Peru’s president opens Pandora’s box," 10 Oct. 2019 Sales typically reward formula and facility more than artistic power; history is full of masterpieces undersold in their own times and prize-winning blockbusters now remembered as dross, if at all. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "James Gray’s Journey from the Outer Boroughs to Outer Space," 9 Sep. 2019 Shedding the dross, revealing the true nature within. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Back to the playa: Burning Man 2019 brings images of fire and fun," 28 Aug. 2019 Fans have been vocal about the club's playing style over the last few months, calling it 'dross', and have even taken to the internet to grade Big Sam's performance in a club survey. SI.com, "Big Sam's Future in Doubt as Talk of Marco Silva's Arrival Filters into Everton's Dressing Room," 10 May 2018 Perhaps an old-fashioned medium, especially when executed to perfection, provides an antidote to the unreflective dross of Facebook and Snapchat. Randall Balmer, Washington Post, "‘Love is the only way’: How a black preacher’s royal wedding address showed the power of a good sermon," 21 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dross.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dross

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dross

Middle English dros, from Old English drōs dregs

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The first known use of dross was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Dross.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dross. Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for dross


How to pronounce dross (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dross

technical : unwanted material that is removed from a mineral (such as gold) to make it better
: something of low value or quality

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More from Merriam-Webster on dross

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dross

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dross

Spanish Central: Translation of dross

Nglish: Translation of dross for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dross for Arabic Speakers

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