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

  • n. The top layer of the earth's surface, consisting of rock and mineral particles mixed with organic matter.
  • n. A particular kind of earth or ground: sandy soil.
  • n. Country; land: native soil.
  • n. The agricultural life: a man of the soil.
  • n. A place or condition favorable to growth; a breeding ground.
  • transitive v. To make dirty, particularly on the surface.
  • transitive v. To disgrace; tarnish: a reputation soiled by scandal.
  • transitive v. To corrupt; defile.
  • transitive v. To dirty with excrement.
  • intransitive v. To become dirty, stained, or tarnished.
  • n. The state of being soiled.
  • n. A stain.
  • n. Filth, sewage, or refuse.
  • n. Manure, especially human excrement, used as fertilizer.
  • transitive v. To feed (livestock) with soilage.
  • transitive v. To purge (livestock) by feeding with green food.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mixture of sand and organic material, used to support plant growth.
  • n. The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants.
  • n. The unconsolidated mineral or organic matter on the surface of the earth that has been subjected to and shows effects of genetic and environmental factors of: climate (including water and temperature effects), and macro- and microorganisms, conditioned by relief, acting on parent material over a period of time. A product-soil differs from the material from which it is derived in many physical, chemical, biological, and morphological properties and characteristics.
  • n. Country or territory.
  • n. That which soils or pollutes; a stain.
  • v. To make dirty.
  • v. To dirty one's clothing by accidentally defecating while clothed.
  • v. To make invalid, to ruin.
  • n. Faeces or urine etc. when found on clothes.
  • n. A bag containing soiled items.
  • n. A wet or marshy place in which a boar or other such game seeks refuge when hunted.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The upper stratum of the earth; the mold, or that compound substance which furnishes nutriment to plants, or which is particularly adapted to support and nourish them.
  • n. Land; country.
  • n. Dung; fæces; compost; manure.
  • n. A marshy or miry place to which a hunted boar resorts for refuge; hence, a wet place, stream, or tract of water, sought for by other game, as deer.
  • n. That which soils or pollutes; a soiled place; spot; stain.
  • intransitive v. To become soiled.
  • transitive v. To feed, as cattle or horses, in the barn or an inclosure, with fresh grass or green food cut for them, instead of sending them out to pasture; hence (such food having the effect of purging them), to purge by feeding on green food.
  • transitive v. To enrich with soil or muck; to manure.
  • transitive v. To make dirty or unclean on the surface; to foul; to dirty; to defile.
  • transitive v. To stain or mar, as with infamy or disgrace; to tarnish; to sully.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make dirty on the surface; dirty; defile; tarnish; sully; smirch; contaminate.
  • To dung; manure.
  • To take on dirt; become soiled; take a soil or stain; tarnish: as, silver soils sooner than gold.
  • To stall-feed with green food; feed for the purpose of fattening.
  • To solve; resolve.
  • To absolve; assoil.
  • A dialectal variant of sile.
  • In plumbing, to paint (the ends of pipes about to be joined) by wiping (them) with soil. See soil, n., 4.
  • n. The ground; the earth.
  • n. Land; country; native land.
  • n. A mixture of fine earthy material with more or less organic matter resulting from the growth and decomposition of vegetation on the surface of the ground, or from the decay of animal matter (manure) artificially supplied.
  • n. In soldering, a mixture of size and lampblack applied around the parts to be joined to prevent the adhesion of melted solder.
  • n. A marshy or wet place to which a hunted boar resorts for reruge; hence, a wet place, stream, or water sought for by other game, as deer.
  • n. Any foul matter upon another substance; foulness.
  • n. Stain; tarnish; spot; defilement or taint.
  • n. Manure; compost. Compare night-soil.
  • n. Same as syle.
  • n. A dialectal variant of sill.
  • n. A young coal fish.
  • n.

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

  • n. material in the top layer of the surface of the earth in which plants can grow (especially with reference to its quality or use)
  • n. the geographical area under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state
  • v. make soiled, filthy, or dirty
  • n. the part of the earth's surface consisting of humus and disintegrated rock
  • n. the state of being covered with unclean things


Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, a piece of ground (influenced in meaning by Latin solum, soil), from Latin solium, seat.
Middle English soilen, from Old French souiller, from Vulgar Latin *suculāre (from Late Latin suculus, diminutive of Latin sūs, pig) or from souil, pigsty, wallow (from Latin solium, seat).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English soile, soyle, sule ("ground, earth"), partly from Anglo-Norman soyl ("bottom, ground, pavement"), from Latin solium ("seat, threshold, place"), mistaken for Latin solum ("ground, foundation, earth, sole of the foot"); and partly from Old English sol ("mud, mire, wet sand"), from Proto-Germanic *sulan (“mud, spot”), from Proto-Indo-European *sūl- (“thick liquid”). Cognate with Middle Low German söle ("dirt, mud"), Middle Dutch sol ("dirt, filth"), Middle High German sol, söl ("dirt, mud, mire"), Danish søle ("mud, muck"). See also sole, soal. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English soilen, soulen, suylen ("to sully, make dirty"), partly from Old French soillier, souillier ("to soil, make dirty, wallow in mire"), from Old Frankish *sauljan, *sulljan (“to make dirty, soil”); partly from Old English solian, sylian ("to soil, make dirty"), from Proto-Germanic *sulwōnan, *sulwijanan, *saulijanan (“to soil, make dirty”), from Proto-Indo-European *sūl- (“thick liquid”). Cognate with Old Saxon sulian ("to soil, mire"), Middle Dutch soluwen, seulewen ("to soil, besmirch"), Old High German solagōn, bisullen ("to make dirty"), German dialectal sühlen ("to soil, make dirty"), Danish søle ("to make dirty, defile"), Swedish söla ("to soil, make dirty"), Gothic 𐌱𐌹𐍃𐌰𐌿𐌻𐌾𐌰𐌽 (bisauljan, "to bemire"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English soyl, from Old French soil, souil ("quagmire, marsh"), from Frankish *sōlja, *saulja ("mire, miry place, wallow"), from Proto-Germanic *sauljō (“mud, puddle, feces”), from Proto-Indo-European *sūl- (“thick liquid”). Cognate with Old English syle, sylu, sylen ("miry place, wallow"), Old High German sol, gisol ("miry place"), German Suhle ("a wallow, mud pit, muddy pool"). (Wiktionary)



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  • I love the expressionnight soil, especially in a honey wagon.

    Perhaps soil has more poise than moist.

    February 26, 2013

  • no I agree. It makes me think of the phrase soil oneself. Ew. Even though I find the phrase in one's own filth somehow hilarious.

    February 26, 2013

  • So why don't people hate the word soil the same way they hate the word moist? Soil always reminds me of night soil or soylent green. Moist always reminds me of delicious cake.

    February 26, 2013