dirty (one's) hands

(redirected from dirtied their hands)

dirty (one's) hands

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.
See also: dirty, hand

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
References in periodicals archive ?
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.
This smarmy, smug pep talk that purports to put everything into perspective is cynically designed not only to distance Springer from the muck in which he works, but to keep his audience from feeling they've dirtied their hands, no matter how pathetic the "victims" they've laughed at the previous hour.
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.