September 19, 2012
At a land trust meeting last night, I noticed some people were taking care in the use of the words “dirt” and “soil.” I would have used them interchangeably, but they clearly were not. CountryMax explains:
- 15c. metathesis of M.E. drit, drytt “mud, dirt, dung” (c.1300), from O.N. drit, cognate with O.E. dritan “to void excrement,” from P.Gmc. *dritanan (cf. Du. drijten, O.H.G. trizan). Used abusively of persons from c.1300. Meaning “gossip” first attested 1926 (in Hemingway); dirt bike is 1960s. Dirt-cheap is from 1821. Dirt road attested by 1852.
- soil (n.)
- “the earth or ground,” c.1300, from Anglo-Fr. soil “piece of ground, place” (13c.), from L. solium “seat,” meaning confused with that of L. solum “soil, ground.” Meaning “mould, earth, dirt” (especially that which plants grow in) is attested from mid-15c.