dust / dəst/ • n. 1. fine, dry powder consisting of tiny particles of earth or waste matter lying on the ground or on surfaces or carried in the air: the car sent up clouds of dust they rolled and fought in the dust. ∎ any material in the form of tiny particles: coal dust. ∎ [in sing.] a fine powder: he ground it into a fine dust. ∎ [in sing.] a cloud of dust. ∎ poetic/lit. a dead person's remains: scatter my dust and ashes. ∎ poetic/lit. the mortal human body: the soul, that dwells within your dust.2. [in sing.] an act of dusting: a quick dust, to get rid of the cobwebs.• v. [tr.] 1. remove the dust from the surface of (something) by wiping or brushing it: I broke the vase I had been dusting pick yourself up and dust yourself off | [intr.] she washed and dusted and tidied. ∎ (dust something off) bring something out for use again after a long period of neglect: a number of aircraft will be dusted off and returned to flight. ∎ Baseball (dust someone off) deliver a pitch very near a batter so they must fall to the dirt to avoid being hit by it.2. (usu. be dusted) cover lightly with a powdered substance: roll out on a surface dusted with flour. ∎ sprinkle (a powdered substance) onto something: orange powder was dusted over the upper body.3. inf. beat up or kill someone: the officers dusted him up a little bit.PHRASES: dust and ashes used to convey a feeling of great disappointment or disillusion about something: the party would be dust and ashes if he couldn't come.the dust settles things quiet down: she hoped that the dust would settle quickly and the episode be forgotten.eat someone's dust inf. fall far behind someone in a competitive situation.gather (or collect) dust remain unused: some professors let their computers gather dust.leave someone/something in the dust surpass someone or something easily: today's modems leave their predecessors in the dust.DERIVATIVES: dust·less adj.
shake the dust off one's feet depart indignantly or disdainfully; originally with allusion to Matthew 10:14.
See also ashes to ashes, dust to dust, a peck of dust in March.
Hence dust vb. †rise as dust XIII; †reduce to dust XV; soil with dust; free from dust XVI (whence duster XVI). dusty OE. dūstiġ.