Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dirt n.

1. [mid-17C; 19C+] money.

2. [19C+] (Aus./N.Z.) a mean action or a malicious remark.

3. [late 19C+] (orig. US) information, not necessarily, but often, scurrilous; often as [1930s+] what’s the dirt (on)...?

4. [late 19C+] (orig. US) an unpleasant individual.

5. [1920s+] (orig. US) gossip, malicious chatter.

6. [1920s–60s] (US) a man who seduces and then beats up or otherwise physically harms male homosexuals, either after/during sex, or instead of; a homophobic thug.

7. [1920s+] (US gay) one who professes homosexuality in order to practise blackmail.

8. [1930s–40s] (US prison) sugar.

9. in drug uses.

(a) [1970s+] (US drugs, also dirt grass) marijuana, usu. very poor quality.

(b) [1970s+] heroin.

10. [1990s+] (US) an alienated drug-taking youth, sometimes one who enjoys ‘Goth’ music and the associated lifestyle.

In compounds

dirt devil (n.)

[1980s+] (US drugs) an individual who has low quality marijuana.

dirt farm (n.) [pun on SE]

[1970s+] (US black) any centre for (malicious) gossip.

dirt grass (n.)

see sense 10a above.

In phrases

blow some dirt (v.)

[1970s+] (US gay) to gossip maliciously.

deal (in) dirt (v.) (also do dirt)

[1970s+] (US black) to gossip, to malign.

dish (out/up) the dirt (v.) (also dish the dope/joint)

[1920s+] to gossip maliciously, to slander; thus dirt disher, a gossip; dirt-dishing adj., gossiping.

do dirt to someone (v.) (also do dirt by someone, do someone dirt)

1. [late 19C+] to harm, to injure deliberately, often verbally; also ext. to a place.

2. [late 19C+] (also do dirt) to act in a deliberately immoral or unethical manner.

3. [1970s+] to pass on gossip.

sling (the) dirt (at) (v.) (also sling off dirt, sling (the) shit) [sling v. (2a)]

[1930s] (Aus./N.Z.) to malign, to slander.

throw some dirt on (v.)

[1970s+] (US black) to malign, to slander.

SE in slang uses

In compounds


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

dirtbird (n.) [? dial. dirt bird, the skua but prob. SE dirt + bird n.1 (3a)]

[1940s+] (Irish) a general term of abuse.

dirt chute (n.)

1. [1940s+] (US) the anus.

2. [2000s] an insult.

dirt-dobber (n.) (also dirt dauber) [SE dob, to dab, to pat/scratcher, also US, a kind of wasp] [1940s–60s]

1. (US, Southern/Western) a poor farmer.

2. (US, Southern/Western) a worthless person.

3. (US campus) a sandal.

dirt-eater (n.) [clay-eater under clay n.]

1. [mid-19C–1950s] (US) a poor white; also attrib.; thus derog. adj. dirt-eating.

2. [mid-19C] (US) a toady.


see separate entries.

dirt road (n.)

see separate entry.

dirt surfer (n.) [SE surfer used as explorer, e.g. Net surfer]

[1980s+] (US) one who has abandoned most if not all the normal standards of hygiene and cleanliness.

dirt tamper (n.) [SE tamp, to ram down hard]

[1940s–70s] a male homosexual, a sodomite.

dirt track (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

hit the dirt (v.)

1. [20C+] (US, also dig (the) dirt) to throw oneself to the ground.

2. [1910s+] to run away, to leave quickly.