synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of nasty in English

English Online Dictionary. What means nasty‎? What does nasty mean?



From Middle English nasty, nasti, naxty, naxte (unclean, filthy), probably from Old Norse *nask- +‎ -y, whence also Early Modern English nasky (nasty). Compare Swedish naskig, naskug (nasty, dirty, messy), Swedish and Danish nasket (dirty, foul, unpleasant). Compare also Low German nask (nasty).

Alternative theories include:

  • From Old French nastre (bad, strange), shortened form of villenastre (infamous, bad), from vilein (villain) + -astre (pejorative suffix), from Latin -aster.
  • Middle Dutch nestich, nistich ("nasty, dirty, unpleasant"; > Modern Dutch nestig (dirty, filthy, unclean)), perhaps ultimately connected to the Scandinavian word above.
  • Other suggestions include Old High German naz (wet), hardening of English nesh(y) (soft), or alteration of English naughty.
  • Modern use of the word is sometimes attributed to the popular and often derogatory 19th century American political cartoons of Thomas Nast, but the word predates him.


  • (General Australian) IPA(key): /ˈnaː.sti/
    • Rhymes: -ɑːsti
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈnɑː.sti/
    • Rhymes: -ɑːsti
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈnæs.ti/
    • Rhymes: -æsti


nasty (comparative nastier, superlative nastiest)

  1. (now chiefly US) Dirty, filthy. [from 14th c.]
    • 2006, Marie Fontaine, The Chronicles of my Ghetto Street Volume One, p. 156:
      I really don't have any friends at school Mama Mia. They talk about me all the time. They say my hair's nappy and my clothes are nasty.
  2. Contemptible, unpleasant (of a person). [from 15th c.]
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, Dracula:
      Jonathan kept staring at him, till I was afraid he would notice. I feared he might take it ill, he looked so fierce and nasty.
  3. Objectionable, unpleasant (of a thing); repellent, offensive. [from 16th c.]
    • 1838, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist:
      ‘It's a nasty trade,’ said Mr. Limbkins, when Gamfield had again stated his wish.
  4. Indecent or offensive; obscene, lewd. [from 17th c.]
    • 1933, Dorothy L Sayers, Murder Must Advertise:
      He said to Mr. Tallboy he thought the headline was a bit hot. And Mr. Tallboy said he had a nasty mind.
    • 2009, Okera H, Be Your Priority, Not His Option, Mill City Press 2009, p. 45:
      We want threesomes, blowjobs, and orgies. That's just the way it is. We want the good girl who's nasty in bed.
  5. Spiteful, unkind. [from 19th c.]
    • 2012, The Guardian, 3 Jun 2012:
      She had said: "I love the block button on Twitter. I don't know how people expect to send a nasty comment and not get blocked."
  6. (chiefly UK) Awkward, difficult to navigate; dangerous. [from 19th c.]
    • 2007, The Observer, 5 Aug 2007:
      There was a nasty period during the First World War when the family's allegiance was called into question - not least because one of the Schroders had been made a baron by the Kaiser.
  7. (chiefly UK) Grave or dangerous (of an accident, illness etc.). [from 19th c.]
    • 2012, James Ball, The Guardian, 2 Mar 2012:
      Moving into the middle ages, William the Conqueror managed to rout the English and rule the country, then see off numerous plots and assassination attempts, before his horse did for him in a nasty fall, killing him at 60.
  8. (slang, chiefly US) Formidable, terrific; wicked. [from 20th c.]


Derived terms

  • nastygram


nasty (plural nasties)

  1. (informal) Something nasty.
  2. (euphemistic, slang, preceded by "the") Sexual intercourse.
  3. A video nasty.
    • 1984, ThirdWay (volume 7, number 5, page 17)
      In this way, it is hoped that the nasties will be dealt with, and the remainder regularized.

Derived terms

  • do the nasty
  • video nasty



  • Ansty, Santy, Tansy, Yants, antsy, tansy

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This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.