\ˈdəst \

Definition of dust 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : fine particles of matter (as of earth)

2 : the particles into which something disintegrates

3a : something worthless

b : a state of humiliation

4a : the earth especially as a place of burial

b : the surface of the ground

5a : a cloud of dust

b : confusion, disturbance

6 archaic : a single particle (as of earth)

7 British : refuse ready for collection



Definition of dust (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 archaic : to make dusty

2 : to make free of dust dust the living room

3a : to sprinkle with fine particles a cake dusted with sugar

b : to sprinkle in the form of dust

4 : to throw a fastball close to (a batter) : brush back often used with off

5 : to defeat badly (as in a race)

intransitive verb

1 of a bird : to work dust into the feathers

2 : to remove dust

3 : to give off dust

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Other Words from dust


dustless \-​ləs \ adjective
dustlike \-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Examples of dust in a Sentence


The floor was covered with dust. You can see the dust particles floating through the air. There is not a speck of dust in that house. As the car sped down the dirt road, it left a cloud of dust behind. He wiped the chalk dust off his hands.


I dust at least once a week. Dust the pan with flour. The crops will be dusted with pesticide.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The dust has settled after last July’s elections (which controversially installed former Mugabe henchman Emmerson Mnangagwa, a.k.a. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 2018 These celestial lighthouses can basically backlight the material that crosses the beam’s path, just as a flashlight beam illuminates unseen motes of dust in the air. Amina Khan, latimes.com, "After years of searching, scientists can finally account for all the normal matter in the universe," 20 June 2018 The dust in the fields reportedly gave Anelo's skin an orange tint. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "Trump lookalike Spanish potato farmer says it's because of 'the color of my hair' | The Kansas City Star," 27 Apr. 2018 The southern island of Crete was particularly badly affected, with some parts reporting dust in the air 10 times normal levels. Fox News, "Haze of African dust shrouds parts of Greece," 26 Mar. 2018 But other sources, like vehicles, power plants, and agriculture, can cut particulates by electrifying, using scrubbers, or employing dust mitigation tactics. Umair Irfan, Vox, "How improving air quality could add years to people’s lives around the world.," 21 Nov. 2018 That goes double for the new season, which was filmed all over Mexico last year, and conjures vérité authenticity from the first frame—saturated with sun and dust. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "The Last Kingdom," 21 Nov. 2018 The dust itself was tracked by observations made a year apart, which allowed the researchers to figure out its relative motion. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Scientists spot two massive stars creating a pinwheel of dust," 20 Nov. 2018 Our view of this hyperactive region is obscured by interstellar dust particles, which together absorb virtually every photon streaking toward Earth. Alan Hirshfeld, WSJ, "Book Review: Feeling Gravity’s Pull," 16 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The cocktails are exquisite, the beignets are powder-sugar-dusted to perfection, and there are oysters. Kristin Luna, Condé Nast Traveler, "11 Best Places for Brunch in Nashville," 27 Feb. 2018 Venom is hitting theaters this weekend without Parker, who was last seen getting dusted away, along with half of humanity, by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Venom, Spider-Man’s symbiote supervillain, explained," 3 Oct. 2018 Plump peel-and-eat shrimp dusted in Old Bay and a gluten-free crab cake bursting with sweet lumps of fresh meat were spot-on, as was a New England chowder that was creamy but not too thick. Craig Laban, Philly.com, "Craig LaBan's first bite of the Delaware beaches | A dining guide," 15 June 2018 When time is finally up, Ramsay presents a marinated steak of cauliflower dusted in vadouvan spice and paired with a garlic, onion, chickpea, and tomato puree. Olivia Harrison, refinery29.com, "Madelaine Petsch Forced Gordon Ramsey To Cook Vegan & The Results Were Disastrous," 11 June 2018 This is @manilasocialclub's gold donut which is filled with cristal jelly and dusted in real gold. Devin Alessio, ELLE Decor, "This Is What A $150 Donut Tastes Like," 29 Apr. 2016 It's made with bubblegum ice cream and dressed with cotton candy, frosted mini cones, a swirl lollipop and vanilla frosting rim dusted with rainbow sprinkles. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "6 places for over-the-top, Instagram-worthy unicorn treats in Phoenix," 11 July 2018 Relying on the enclosed instructional DVD, dust your door knobs for prints, take photographs of the crime scene and gather all physical evidence the criminal left behind. Drew Broach, NOLA.com, "How much money do Jefferson Parish officials have in their campaign accounts?," 16 Feb. 2018 We’ve been dusted numerous times, but nothing significant has hit. Kevin Ambrose, Washington Post, "Remember when D.C. actually got snow? Eight years ago today, Snowmageddon hit.," 6 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dust.' 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 dust


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


1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for dust


Middle English, from Old English dūst; akin to Old High German tunst storm, and probably to Latin fumus smoke — more at fume

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Statistics for dust

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dust

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

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More Definitions for dust



English Language Learners Definition of dust

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: fine dry powder that builds up inside buildings on surfaces that have not recently been cleaned

: fine powder made up of very small pieces of earth or sand

: fine powder made from a particular substance



English Language Learners Definition of dust (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (something) clean by brushing or wiping dirt and dust from the surface

: to cover (something) with a fine powder


\ˈdəst \

Kids Definition of dust

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : fine dry powdery particles (as of earth) : a fine powder that often builds up on furniture

2 : a fine powder made from a particular substance or from something that has disintegrated gold dust

3 : the surface of the ground The horses pawed at the dust.


dusted; dusting

Kids Definition of dust (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make free of dust : brush or wipe away dust dust furniture

2 : to sprinkle with or as if with fine particles Dust the pan with flour.

Other Words from dust

duster \ˈdə-​stər \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on dust

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dust

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dust

Spanish Central: Translation of dust

Nglish: Translation of dust for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dust for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dust

Comments on dust

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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