nas·​ty ˈna-stē How to pronounce nasty (audio)
nastier; nastiest
: disgustingly filthy
nasty living conditions
: physically repugnant
a nasty taste
: indecent, obscene
nasty language
: mean, tawdry
living a cheap and nasty lifeG. B. Shaw
: extremely hazardous (see hazardous sense 1) or harmful
a nasty undertow
: causing severe pain or suffering
a nasty wound
a nasty fall
: sharply unpleasant : disagreeable
nasty weather
: difficult to understand or deal with
a nasty problem
a nasty curveball
: psychologically unsettling : trying
a nasty fear that she was lost
: lacking in courtesy or sportsmanship
a nasty trick
nastily adverb
nastiness noun
nasty noun
Choose the Right Synonym for nasty

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

Examples of nasty in a Sentence

She has a nasty habit of biting her fingernails. The medicine left a nasty taste in my mouth. That nasty old man yelled at me just for stepping on his lawn! He sent a nasty letter to the company. She's got quite a nasty temper. He said lots of downright nasty things about her. She called him a few nasty names and left. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Particularly in later episodes, when the dynamic between Malcolm X and his mentor sours and the civil rights leader eventually steps down from the Nation of Islam amid nasty accusations, Jones shows a treacherous side which audiences haven’t seen from him before. Jack Smart, Peoplemag, 21 Feb. 2024 By swerving past a theatrical release in Germany, the streamer may have avoided a nasty pile-up. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Feb. 2024 This time, the nasty twist is a malicious campaign specifically designed to attack Samsung devices. Zak Doffman, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 There’s evident dissatisfaction across the country about the nasty tone and tribalism that has infected national politics. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Feb. 2024 After sitting out most of the Trump years—an era when politics got nastier and crazier at hurricane speeds—Stewart has come back to a democracy in tatters and the very real possibility of another Trump victory in November. Inkoo Kang, The New Yorker, 13 Feb. 2024 JoJo, meanwhile, could also be nasty and domineering, according to sources, a sharp contrast from her upbeat on-screen persona. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 13 Feb. 2024 How nasty did that Republican race get, and what did Donald Trump say about Nikki Haley in his victory speech there? Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 26 Jan. 2024 The College Dropout, fans from all over endured a nasty mix of thunder, rain, and hail to hear Yeezy and Ty Dolla Sign’s collaborative effort, Vultures before the rest of the world at the United Center in his Chicago kingdom. Mark Braboy, Rolling Stone, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nasty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of nasty was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near nasty

Cite this Entry

“Nasty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


nas·​ty ˈnas-tē How to pronounce nasty (audio)
nastier; nastiest
: very dirty or foul : filthy
: morally disgusting or degrading
: disagreeable sense 1, unpleasant
nasty weather
: spiteful, ill-natured
a nasty temper
a nasty trick
: harmful, dangerous
a nasty fall on the ice
nastily adverb
nastiness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on nasty

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