What Does Quick and Dirty Mean?

Quick and Dirty Meaning

Definition: Fast but not done well.

This expression refers to completing a task rapidly rather than making it high quality. Usually, things that are quick and dirty serve a temporary purpose rather than long term.

Origin of Quick and Dirty

This term originated around the 1930s in America. It is unclear exactly how it developed. However, it is possible that quick developed from how hastily the task was performed.

Perhaps dirty developed because the product did not look very neat, clean, or visually appealing.  This is because it was made for function rather than beauty.

Examples of Quick and Dirty

quick dirty tipsThis example shows two women discussing an upcoming meeting.

Bella: Oh, good! You made it to the meeting. I was worried you wouldn’t have enough time to get here with the information you need to present.

Hannah: Yeah, I almost didn’t make it.

Bella: Could you finish your report?

Hannah: Sort of. I made a quick and dirty version that will suffice for now. I’ll have to improve it a lot before I email it out. It’ll be fine for me to use as notes while speaking to the others.

Bella: Luckily, you only have to speak for a minute or two.

Hannah: I know. If I needed to speak for longer, I’d be in big trouble.

Bella: Oh, it looks like it’s starting.

quick and dirty grammar tipsThe following example shows two college students riding their bikes to a restaurant for dinner.

Hanh: Hey! You’re falling behind. What’s the matter?

Zhongyi: I think my bike tire is flat.

Hanh: Oh no. Are we stuck?

Zhongyi: No, don’t worry. I can do a quick and dirty fix. This patch won’t last forever, but it should last long enough for us to get to the restaurant.

Hanh: That’s good. Can I help?

More Examples

In the below excerpt, the author gives a quick overview of heart failure that isn’t perfectly accurate.

  • According to the American Heart Association, the quick and dirty explanation is that cardiac arrest is an electrical problem that causes the heart to stop pumping, whereas a heart attack is a circulatory problem caused when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked due to arterial blockage or rupture. –USA Today

The second example describes a fast and simple way to make candles, although the candles won’t be of great quality.

Summary

The phrase quick and dirty means that the person doesn’t have time to make something perfect. Another synonym for the expression is slipshod.