Idiom:  get one’s hands dirty


Idiom:  get one’s hands dirty

  1. to do hard work, especially hard physical labor
  2. to do something illegal or underhanded

Example sentences

  • My boss is great because she’ll get her hands dirty and help us with mailings and phone calls whenever we get really busy.
  • My son was never one to get his hands dirty.  Even when he was a boy, he used his allowance to pay his sister to mow the lawn and clean his room. 
  • I refused to get my hands dirty by misleading customers so I was fired after the first week on the job.
  • To get elected, some politicians get their hands dirty by taking donations from unscrupulous sources.

  • When doing business around the world, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty and sometimes that means paying bribes.

  • This year we got our Halloween pumpkins from the pumpkin patch and it was really fun to get our hands dirty and pick our own.

  • Habitat for Humanity is always looking for volunteers who are not afraid of getting their hands dirty helping to build houses for low-income people.


  • roll one's sleeves up  (meaning 1 above)
  • grease someone's palm  (meaning 2)

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