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.
Recent Examples on the Web Justice is coming a bit more circuitously in the case of another nasty individual. New York Daily News Editorial Board, New York Daily News, 3 July 2024 And yet, at the end of those four years, moderates remained the majority, even as politics grew nastier. Karl Vick, TIME, 2 July 2024 In that time, Kidd has seen the election environment turn nasty. Tribune News Service, Hartford Courant, 28 June 2024 That the two men dislike one another is well known, but their exchanges became increasingly nasty and personal as the debate progressed. Dan Balz, Washington Post, 28 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for nasty 

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 12 Jul. 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!