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Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective filthy differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of filthy are dirty, foul, nasty, and squalid. While all these words mean "conspicuously unclean or impure," 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 might dirty be a better fit than filthy?

In some situations, the words dirty and filthy are roughly equivalent. However, 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 would foul be a good substitute for filthy?

The words foul and filthy are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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 is nasty related to other words for filthy?

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

In what contexts can squalid take the place of filthy?

The synonyms squalid and filthy are sometimes interchangeable, but 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 filthy

Cite this Entry

“Filthy.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

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