from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Fine, dry particles of matter.
  • noun A cloud of fine, dry particles.
  • noun Particles of matter regarded as the result of disintegration.
  • noun Earth, especially when regarded as the substance of the grave.
  • noun The surface of the ground.
  • noun A debased or despised condition.
  • noun Something of no worth.
  • noun Chiefly British Rubbish readied for disposal.
  • noun Confusion; agitation; commotion.
  • intransitive verb To remove dust from by wiping, brushing, or beating.
  • intransitive verb To sprinkle with a powdery substance.
  • intransitive verb To apply or strew in fine particles.
  • intransitive verb Baseball To deliver a pitch so close to (the batter) as to make the batter back away.
  • intransitive verb To clean by removing dust.
  • intransitive verb To cover itself with dry soil or other particulate matter. Used of a bird.
  • idiom (in the dust) Far behind, as in a race or competition.
  • idiom (make the dust fly) To go about a task with great energy and speed.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To free from dust; brush, wipe, or sweep away dust from: as, to dust a table, floor, or room.
  • To sprinkle with dust, or with something in the form of dust: as, to dust a cake with fine sugar; to dust a surface with white or yellow.
  • To throw; hurl.
  • To strike; beat.
  • To run; leave hastily; scuttle; get out: as, to get up and dust; come, dust out of here.
  • noun In botany, pollen.
  • noun Flour.
  • noun Earth or other matter in fine dry particles, so attenuated that they can be raised and carried by the wind; finely comminuted or powdered matter: as, clouds of dust obscure the sky.
  • noun A collection or cloud of powdered matter in the air; an assemblage or mass of fine particles carried by the wind: as, the trampling of the animals raised a great dust; to take the dust of a carriage going in advance.
  • noun Hence Confusion, obscurity, or entanglement of contrary opinions or desires; embroilment; discord: as, to raise a dust about an affront; to kick up a dust. See phrases below.
  • noun A small quantity of any powdered substance sprinkled over something: used chiefly in cookery: as, give it a dust of ground spice.
  • noun Crude matter regarded as consisting of separate particles; elementary substance.
  • noun Hence A dead body, or one of the atoms that compose it; remains.
  • noun A low condition, as if prone on the ground.
  • noun Rubbish; ashes and other refuse.
  • noun Gold-dust; hence, money; cash. See phrases below.
  • noun Same as dust-brand.
  • noun To make confusion or disturbance; get up a dispute; create discord or angry discussion.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To free from dust; to brush, wipe, or sweep away dust from.
  • transitive verb To sprinkle with dust.
  • transitive verb To reduce to a fine powder; to levigate.
  • transitive verb [Slang.] to give one a flogging.
  • noun Fine, dry particles of earth or other matter, so comminuted that they may be raised and wafted by the wind; that which is crumbled to minute portions; fine powder
  • noun rare A single particle of earth or other matter.
  • noun The earth, as the resting place of the dead.
  • noun The earthy remains of bodies once alive; the remains of the human body.
  • noun Figuratively, a worthless thing.
  • noun Figuratively, a low or mean condition.
  • noun Slang, Slang Gold dust.
  • noun [Slang] deposit the cash; pay down the money.
  • noun (Bot.) a fungous plant (Ustilago Carbo); -- called also smut.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English dūst.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English dust, doust, from Old English dust, dūst ("dust, dried earth reduced to powder; other dry material reduced to powder"), from the fusion of Proto-Germanic *dustan (“dust”) and Proto-Germanic *dunstan (“mist, dust, evaporation”), both from Proto-Indo-European *dʰewes-, *dʰews-, *dʰwAn-, *dʰūw- (“to smoke, raise dust”). Cognate with Scots dust, dist ("dust"), Dutch duist ("pollen, dust") and dons ("down, fuzz"), German Dust ("dust") and Dunst ("haze"), Swedish dust ("dust"), Icelandic dust ("dust"), Latin fūmus ("smoke, steam"). Also related to Swedish dun ("down, fluff"), Icelandic dúnn ("down, fluff"). See down.


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  • Contronymic in the sense: add dust vs. remove dust.

    January 31, 2007

  • bilby, when you added this word to my list, did you mean just dust or Dust?

    March 27, 2008

  • Pro,

    Ashes to ashes

    Dust to dust

    If bull doesn't blind you

    lower-case must


    March 27, 2008

  • Norwegian for idiot :)

    March 23, 2009

  • Another example of the aleph losing its sound and moving to the beginning of the Hebrew word produced the homonym @aVaQ aleph-vet-kuf which now means both "dust" and "quarrel, argument, controversy". The original sound for the quarrel-word was ViQoo'aKHt, now spelled vav-kaf-oo-het. Compare the English idiom "dust-up", where the "up" may be a transliteration of @aF = anger; nose.

    June 17, 2009

  • Etymonline has this useful rider about what it's doing in funeral rites:

    Old English dust, from Proto-Germanic *dunstaz (source also of Old High German tunst "storm, breath," German Dunst "mist, vapor," Danish dyst "milldust," Dutch duist), from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, smoke, vapor" (source also of Sanskrit dhu- "shake," Latin fumus "smoke"). Meaning "that to which living matter decays" was in Old English, hence, figuratively, "mortal life."

    May 13, 2018

  • Cue Gil Scott Heron's "Angel Dust"

    May 14, 2018

  • Yes! And/or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

    May 14, 2018

  • Thus stirred my 90s heart

    May 15, 2018