dirty (one's) hands

(redirected from dirtied their hands)

dirty (one's) hands

1. To partake in especially underhanded, illicit, or illegal work or activities. The public can't be allowed to think that I, a senate hopeful, would ever dirty my hands with a tax-evasion scheme such as that.
2. To do hard work, often manual labor. There is nothing more rewarding to me than dirtying my hands in my garden.
See also: dirty, hand
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

get one's hands dirty and dirty one's hands; soil one's hands

1. Fig. to get closely involved in a difficult task. You have to get your hands dirty if you expect to get the gutters cleaned out.
2. Fig. to become involved with something illegal; to do a shameful thing; to do something that is beneath one. The mayor would never get his hands dirty by giving away political favors. I will not dirty my hands by breaking the law.
See also: and, dirty, get, hand, soil
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

dirty one's hands

Also, get one's hands dirty or soil one's hands. Do something shameful or illegal. For example, He refused to dirty his hands and give jobs to the big campaign donors, or Getting one's hands dirty by lying to the boss will be severely punished, or She would not soil her hands by cheating. This expression is a metaphor for literally defiling or soiling oneself. [Mid-1600s]
See also: dirty, hand
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
DUBAI: "Everyone dirtied their hands. Everyone got involved.
These self-elected dictators are led by people who have never dirtied their hands or had to struggle to make end meet.
When told, they had already dirtied their hands in the process before knowing any better.
Unlike my childhood playmates, who dirtied their hands only in the creation of mud pies and cakes, my main goal was to get as filthy as possible.
BY the time they get around to restoring a classic car, most enthusiasts will have dirtied their hands on countless engines, developing a pretty good grasp of how they work.
However, he said investigating detectives believe none of them dirtied their hands with the bomb, instead they drafted in less prominent members of their illegal organisation to drive the car into the town.
The obvious objection to such a reductionist definition is that it would have to include the wartime Maquis and many other movements that have dirtied their hands with cruel and indiscriminate tactics.