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英語研究プロジェクトCase Study 20

Updated: Mar 4, 2022



My room is dirty.

This is a classic mistake to make, but it’s just a matter of word choice.

I always feel that a lot of my students don’t fully understand the deeper connotations of the word ‘dirty.’

A connotation is like an additional idea.

A feeling

A notion

An underlying meaning

Let’s look in more detail about the reasons why you should think twice before using the word ‘dirty.’

Especially when talking about your home.



In order to fully understand the word ‘dirty,’ first we have to look at where the word comes from. It comes from dirt.

Dirt = 土

The general meaning of dirt is soil or earth. You know, the stuff we are all standing on right now.

So we usually use dirty for things like:

A dirty car

Dirty boots

Dirty hands

A dirty t-shirt

A dirty dog

Basically it means 汚れている.

So if you say "My house is dirty," it sounds terrible.

Like you are living like a pig. It sounds unhygienic, disgusting and perhaps dangerous. We imagine bacteria, mold and even insects and mice crawling around your house.

That’s not creating a very good impression, is it?

'Dirty' also has 2 other meanings that I really must talk about.

The first one is this.

Dirty can mean sexual or pornographic


A dirty movie

A dirty magazine

A dirty joke

A dirty old man

It’s also in the title of a famous movie from back in 1987.

Dirty Dancing

The 2nd meaning is someone who doesn’t do things fairly in sports, business or politics


A dirty fight

A dirty game

A dirty deal

A dirty move

A dirty divorce

You may also have heard of the classic Clint Eastwood movies from the 70’s 'Dirty Harry.'

"Go ahead! Make my day!

Also did you know that dirty can be used as a verb?


Don’t dirty your nice white t-shirt.

He dirtied my carpet with his muddy shoes.

He dirtied the reputation of our company.

Dirty is also used to give more emphasis to a negative adjective.

She’s a dirty little cheat!

A dirty great tower was built next to my house!

One more point about the pronunciation of the word dirty. In different English accents it can be difficult to pick up. It's best to watch the video for this part. Watch Video Now



So what’s the solution to this problem?

Let’s go back to the original sentence.

My room is dirty.

Probably what you want to say is this



In English you can say

My room is messy.

My room is in a complete mess.

My room is so untidy.

My room is like a pigsty.

My room looks like a bomb site.

Another super common mistake is this

His writing is dirty.


So it should be

His writing is messy.

His writing is illegible.

Illegible means it’s so messy that you can’t even read it.



Let's take a look at 5 example sentences.

(1) Your desk is so messy. It’s getting beyond a joke!

To go/get beyond a joke means it’s not even funny anymore. It’s serious and maybe even worrying.

(2) My new jeans got all dirty when we walked through the park in the rain.

I guess they should have thought twice before wearing them.

(3) His handwriting was so messy, nobody could make out what he’d written.

So if you can’t make something out, it means you can’t see or read it clearly. If you look carefully you can just about make out Mount Fuji on the horizon.

(4) When my uncle passed away they found a whole box of dirty magazines under his bed.

The 2nd meaning is someone who doesn’t do things fairly in sports, business or politics. die.

(5) They say if you have a messy house then you have a messy life.

I don’t know if I agree with that one!



The word 'dirty' has a slightly different meaning in Japanese and English, but if you follow these tips - you should be fine. I hope your room is just good old-fashioned messy and not 'dirty.' Please watch the VIDEO LESSON on YouTube!

Thanks for reading!









a dirty old man


a dirty divorce




a pigsty






get/go beyond a joke


make out


pass away


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