from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dirty car

Dirt is something that causes uncleanliness or pollution. So dirt and pollution are roughly the opposite of cleanliness , but such definitions are not unambiguous, but depend on the context, situation and individual perception.

Contamination or soiling refers to the process or the state of pollution or the contamination of surfaces, objects, substances or rooms with substances that are viewed as dirt in the respective context, i.e. that are perceived as hazardous to health , nauseating , ecologically questionable or aesthetically repulsive for example through rubbish, rubbish or dirt. Of pollution is usually then talk, if by fouling the natural environment is environmentally or aesthetically affected by emissions or waste.

The removal of dirt is the field of activity of professional city ​​cleaning and professional building cleaning , it also plays an important role in personal hygiene and housekeeping (laundry, dishes, etc.).


Dirt is material (often in the form of small particles, traces, discoloration) that is undesirable from the point of view of the user or observer in the relevant area, in particular dust and sticky, earthy, greasy or greasy residues on surfaces (which in turn bind dust can).

But not all undesirable or unforeseen residues and substances are perceived and designated as dirt, for example water and snow are generally not viewed as uncleanliness or contamination and thus not as dirt. Dirt is more likely to refer to substances that are associated with disgust , a lack of hygiene or disorder.

What is dirt also depends a lot on the context. So earth or sand on a carpet is usually seen as dirt, but earth in a flower bed or sand in a sandpit or on a sandy beach is not.

As a refuge for microorganisms , its removal is important for hygiene and material conservation. Fine dirt on objects and surfaces often adheres through electrostatic forces , adhesion , mechanical anchoring ( granulate , fibers) or chemical surface changes ( rust , patina , verdigris ). Dirt can also include precipitation ( acid rain , radioactive cloud ), as well as droppings (mite or bird droppings), urine, and sebum . In human perception, dirt is usually associated with worthlessness and possibly disgust.


The origin of the word is uncertain. According to the Etymological Dictionary of the German Language , the early New High German smu (t) z , which has been documented since the 15th century, fits into a group of terms for moisture, which also includes moder , and can be combined with the Greek mydao "I am moist, spoil from the wet, related "be related. The German Etymological Dictionary traces it back to a suspected Indo-European form * meu-, * mu "moist, musty " with Dutch and Middle Rhine mot "fog" . The job title Smut for a ship's cook is derived from dirt .


What dirt is also depends on the context. Depending on which objects or areas there is dirt, different substances are referred to as dirt. In the case of objects with a smooth, non-absorbent surface, the substances known as dirt are often different types of dust (from the air or as a result of splashing water) or a film of grease that adheres to the surface. In apartments and other closed interiors, in addition to dust, traces of abrasion are also perceived as dirt, for example, in urban areas lying around, dog droppings, leaves that have not been swept up are usually also perceived as dirt, in the landscape mainly garbage. On clothing, other textiles and other absorbent surfaces, not only dust but also grease stains and discoloration from dried colored liquids occur. Dirt in bodies of water is contamination from solid particles, from garbage or from toxic or other liquids. Dirty air usually means air that is contaminated with dust or gases that are not normally found in healthy air.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Dirt  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden . The large dictionary of the German language in 10 volumes. 3rd edition Mannheim 1999, vol. 8, p. 3403.
  2. a b Wolfgang Pfeifer: Etymological Dictionary of German. 4th edition, Munich 1999, p. 1226.
  3. Kluge. Etymological dictionary of the German language. 24th edition Berlin / New York 2002, p. 816.