1. Fine, dry particles of matter.
2. A cloud of fine, dry particles.
3. Particles of matter regarded as the result of disintegration: fabric that had fallen to dust over the centuries.
a. Earth, especially when regarded as the substance of the grave: "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" (Book of Common Prayer).
b. The surface of the ground.
5. A debased or despised condition.
6. Something of no worth.
7. Chiefly British Rubbish readied for disposal.
8. Confusion; agitation; commotion: won't go back in until the dust settles.
v. dust·ed, dust·ing, dusts
1. To remove dust from by wiping, brushing, or beating: dust the furniture.
2. To sprinkle with a powdery substance: dusted the cookies with sugar; dust crops with fertilizer.
3. To apply or strew in fine particles: dusted talcum powder on my feet.
4. Baseball To deliver a pitch so close to (the batter) as to make the batter back away.
1. To clean by removing dust.
2. To cover itself with dry soil or other particulate matter. Used of a bird.
To restore to use: dusted off last year's winter coat.
in the dust
Far behind, as in a race or competition: a marketing strategy that left our competitors in the dust.
make the dust fly
To go about a task with great energy and speed.
[Middle English, from Old English dūst.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.