dirty (one's) hands

(redirected from dirty 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 ?
"The youth here don't want to dirty their hands with clay.
The youngsters were very happy to dirty their hands in the compost and then carefully place each bloom in position, including Geraniums, Surfinias, Lobelia and one of Harry's particular favourites, Petunia Tidal Wave.
Politicians and big business in need of favours today wouldn't dirty their hands because there's no need to in Ireland's post-corrupt society.
People are in politics to dirty their hands and make gains for themselves and their parties at the cost of rivals.
'Students think the ILPs are not up to the mark and they don't want to dirty their hands,' Kulasegaran told a press conference after meeting with Perak industry stakeholders at the Ipoh Industrial Training Institute here.
To start with, this lot seldom dirty their hands, outsourcing the job of breaking laws to others, who oblige for fear or favour.
THE FAct they didn't at that critical low point suggests they still don't want dirty their hands, or that they had faith their man would turn things around.
Luang Prabang, Laos, October 10, 2015 --(PR.com)-- With Laos' background in sustainable tourism, Kamu Lodge greets the month of October with a new exciting package inviting its guests to roll up their sleeves, dirty their hands and feet a little bit and plough the land with the lodge's resident buffalo.
THOSE who dirty their hands lead a wretched life full of massive social discrimination.
Armstead shows that the world of antebellum gardening was dominated by white gentleman and, in many ways, the work of gardening reflected and reinforced social hierarchies, which Armstead demonstrates effectively by reproducing an 1835 "Typology of Early Nineteenth Century Gardeners in Ascending Order." (67) At the same time, however, gardening was inherently a messy business in which all participants were prone to dirty their hands and transgress social boundaries.
anneb: "After all the cuts going on, I'd have thought there weren't many manual, workers left, what about the office staff and the rest who don't dirty their hands? How many days did they have off?
They refused to play with her, saying her dark skin would dirty their hands. They broke her teeth.
Even the aristocracy who never had to dirty their hands, would have been in tune with where there food was coming from.
He said that France is standing alone on the front line, asking sarcastically "Why do the Americans have to dirty their hands when a fool is there to do the dirty acts on their behalf." H.
Council workers, now called officers, don't dirty their hands these days.