dust off


earth or other matter in fine, dry particles.
a cloud of finely powdered earth or other matter in the air.
any finely powdered substance, as sawdust.
the ground; the earth's surface.
the substance to which something, as the dead human body, is ultimately reduced by disintegration or decay; earthly remains.
ashes, refuse, etc.
junk1 ( def 1 ).
a low or humble condition.
anything worthless.
disturbance; turmoil.
the mortal body of a human being.
a single particle or grain.
Archaic. money; cash.
verb (used with object)
to wipe the dust from: to dust a table.
to sprinkle with a powder or dust: to dust rosebushes with an insecticide.
to strew or sprinkle (a powder, dust, or other fine particles): to dust insecticide on a rosebush.
to soil with dust; make dusty.
verb (used without object)
to wipe dust from furniture, woodwork, etc.
to become dusty.
to apply dust or powder to a plant, one's body, etc.: to dust with an insecticide in late spring.
bite the dust,
to be killed, especially in battle; die.
to suffer defeat; be unsuccessful; fail: Another manufacturer has bitten the dust.
dust off,
Baseball. (of a pitcher) to throw the ball purposely at or dangerously close to (the batter).
to take out or prepare for use again, as after a period of inactivity or storage: I'm going to dust off my accounting skills and try to get a job in the finance department.
to beat up badly: The gang of hoodlums dusted off a cop.
leave one in the dust, to overtake and surpass a competitor or one who is less ambitious, qualified, etc.: Don't be so meek, they'll leave you in the dust.
lick the dust,
to be killed; die.
to humble oneself abjectly; grovel: He will resign rather than lick the dust.
make the dust fly, to execute with vigor or speed: We turned them loose on the work, and they made the dust fly.
shake the dust from one's feet, to depart in anger or disdain; leave decisively or in haste, especially from an unpleasant situation: As the country moved toward totalitarianism, many of the intelligentsia shook the dust from their feet.
throw dust in someone's eyes, to mislead; deceive: He threw dust in our eyes by pretending to be a jeweler and then disappeared with the diamonds.

before 900; Middle English; Old English dūst; cognate with German Dunst vapor

dustless, adjective
redust, verb (used with object)
undusted, adjective
well-dusted, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
dust (dʌst)
1.  dry fine powdery material, such as particles of dirt, earth or pollen
2.  a cloud of such fine particles
3.  the powdery particles to which something is thought to be reduced by death, decay, or disintegration
4.  a.  the mortal body of man
 b.  the corpse of a dead person
5.  the earth; ground
6.  informal a disturbance; fuss (esp in the phrases kick up a dust, raise a dust)
7.  something of little or no worth
8.  informal (in mining parlance) silicosis or any similar respiratory disease
9.  short for gold dust
10.  ashes or household refuse
11.  bite the dust
 a.  to fail completely or cease to exist
 b.  to fall down dead
12.  dust and ashes something that is very disappointing
13.  leave someone or something in the dust to outdo someone or something comprehensively or with ease: leaving their competitors in the dust
14.  shake the dust off one's feet to depart angrily or contemptuously
15.  throw dust in the eyes of to confuse or mislead
16.  (tr) to sprinkle or cover (something) with (dust or some other powdery substance): to dust a cake with sugar; to dust sugar onto a cake
17.  to remove dust by wiping, sweeping, or brushing
18.  archaic to make or become dirty with dust
[Old English dūst; related to Danish dyst flour dust, Middle Dutch dūst dust, meal dust, Old High German tunst storm]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. dust, from P.Gmc. *dunstaz, from PIE *dheu- with a sense of "smoke, vapor" (cf. Skt. dhu- "shake," L. fumus "smoke"). The verb means both "to sprinkle with dust" (1590s) and "to rid of dust" (1560s). Sense of "to kill" is U.S. slang first recorded 1938 (cf. bite the dust under bite).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Dust definition

Storms of sand and dust sometimes overtake Eastern travellers. They are very dreadful, many perishing under them. Jehovah threatens to bring on the land of Israel, as a punishment for forsaking him, a rain of "powder and dust" (Deut. 28:24). To cast dust on the head was a sign of mourning (Josh. 7:6); and to sit in dust, of extreme affliction (Isa. 47:1). "Dust" is used to denote the grave (Job 7:21). "To shake off the dust from one's feet" against another is to renounce all future intercourse with him (Matt. 10:14; Acts 13:51). To "lick the dust" is a sign of abject submission (Ps. 72:9); and to throw dust at one is a sign of abhorrence (2 Sam. 16:13; comp. Acts 22:23).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

dust off

  1. Restore to use. For example, I've dusted off last year's menu for the party. This usage alludes to cleaning and thereby renewing some object. [Mid-1900s]

  2. Pitch a baseball dangerously close to the batter's head, as in I'm sure he dusted him off on purpose. [Slang; 1920s]

  3. Finish off, kill; also, easily defeat. For example, They vowed to dust off the old man, or We'll dust off this team in no time. [Slang; c. 1940]

  4. Thrash, beat up, as in If he didn't hand over his wallet, they threatened to dust him off. [Slang; 1920s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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