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as in obscene
depicting or referring to sexual matters in a way that is unacceptable in polite society some radio stations refused to play the song because of the dirty lyrics

Synonyms & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

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dirty

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verb

dirty

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adverb

Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective dirty differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of dirty are filthy, foul, nasty, and squalid. While all these words mean "conspicuously unclean or impure," dirty emphasizes the presence of dirt more than an emotional reaction to it or, figuratively, stresses meanness or despicableness.

a dirty littered street
don't ask me to do your dirty work

When is it sensible to use filthy instead of dirty?

The words filthy and dirty are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, filthy carries a strong suggestion of offensiveness and typically of gradually accumulated dirt that begrimes and besmears. Figuratively, it can also describe disgusting obscenity.

a stained greasy floor, utterly filthy
filthy street language

When could foul be used to replace dirty?

The meanings of foul and dirty largely overlap; however, foul implies extreme offensiveness and an accumulation of what is rotten or stinking; it can also describe, for example, loathsome behavior.

a foul-smelling open sewer
a foul story of lust and greed

How does the word nasty relate to other synonyms for dirty?

Nasty applies to what is actually foul or is repugnant to one expecting freshness, cleanliness, or sweetness; in practice, however, nasty is often weakened to the point of being no more than a synonym of unpleasant or disagreeable. When used figuratively, nasty implies a peculiarly offensive unpleasantness.

it's a nasty job to clean up after a sick cat
had a nasty fall
his answer gave her a nasty shock
a stand-up comedian known for nasty humor

Where would squalid be a reasonable alternative to dirty?

While the synonyms squalid and dirty are close in meaning, squalid adds to the idea of dirtiness and filth that of slovenly neglect. Distinctively, its figurative use implies sordidness as well as baseness and dirtiness.

squalid slums
engaged in a series of squalid affairs

Thesaurus Entries Near dirty

Cite this Entry

“Dirty.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/dirty. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

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