dirty one's hands

(redirected from get one's hands dirty)

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.

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 philosopher Michael Walzer puts it well: "It is easy to get one's hands dirty in politics." He immediately adds, however, that this getting one's hands dirty in this way is "often the right thing to do."