dirty (one's) hands

(redirected from dirtying 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 ?
These are success stories people who have made it through hard work, dirtying their hands, being punctual, responsible, accountableThese trips were part of a subject, Public International Law.
Europeans could now work without dirtying their hands or injuring their limbs, and kill without engaging in hand-to-hand combat.
Are we to sacrifice every last thrill our great game has to offer in the interests of protecting the blue chip clubs for a star studded finale that spares them dirtying their hands among the lower orders along the way?
They're afraid of dirtying their hands or they are just simply ignorant and disrespectful to others and the maintenance staff?
On the contrary, dirtying their hands, they read Houellebecq closely, attentive in particular to his manipulation of voice and tone, and his talent for delineating a cultural situation by means of the organization of its defining materials, whether inherited from the nineteenth century or announcing the twenty-first.
Libertarians tend to eschew Hamilton and his Yankee ilk, like Morris, for dirtying their hands actually trying to erect the economic groundwork of the richest nation in the known universe.
Anti-euthanasia groups condemned his death and accused the doctors who helped him of "dirtying their hands".
'Universities felt that working with industry would be dirtying their hands. However, they have come to realise that they must do this to survive.