Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective squalid differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of squalid are dirty, filthy, foul, and nasty. While all these words mean "conspicuously unclean or impure," 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

In what contexts can dirty take the place of squalid?

The words dirty and squalid are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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 could filthy be used to replace squalid?

While the synonyms filthy and squalid are close in meaning, 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 can foul be used instead of squalid?

In some situations, the words foul and squalid are roughly equivalent. 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 squalid?

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

Thesaurus Entries Near squalid

Cite this Entry

“Squalid.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/squalid. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

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