Definitions

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

  • n. Foul or dirty matter.
  • n. Disgusting garbage or refuse.
  • n. A dirty or corrupt condition; foulness.
  • n. Something, such as language or printed matter, considered obscene, prurient, or immoral.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. dirt
  • n. smut
  • n. the police
  • n. weeds growing on pasture land

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Foul matter; anything that soils or defiles; dirt; nastiness.
  • n. Anything that sullies or defiles the moral character; corruption; pollution.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Anything that soils or defiles; foul, offensive matter; also, the state of being defiled; a foul condition; squalor; nastiness.
  • n. Anything that sullies or befouls the moral character; pollution; defilement.
  • n. Figuratively, a low or foul fellow; a wretch.
  • n. Synonyms Impurity, grossness, obscenity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any substance considered disgustingly foul or unpleasant
  • n. a state characterized by foul or disgusting dirt and refuse
  • n. the state of being covered with unclean things
  • n. an offensive or indecent word or phrase

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English fȳlth; see pū̆- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English filth, from Old English fȳlþ ("foulness, filth"), from Proto-Germanic *fūliþō (“foulness, filth”), from Proto-Germanic *fūlaz (“foul, corrupt, dirty, vile”), from Proto-Indo-European *pū- (“rottenness, pus”), equivalent to foul +‎ -th. More at foul. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Acronym: "Failed in London, Try Honkers", referring to the phenomenon of England's not-quite-best-and-brightest moving to Hong Kong in an effort to boost their success in the financial or business world. A career path which was presumably closed off after the 1999 handover of the colony to the Chinese.

    February 9, 2009

  • British slang - "filth - Noun. The police. E.g.'The filth are out in force tonight, so watch your behaviour and no drunkeness.' 1950s"
    - peevish.co.uk

    September 23, 2008