Quick and Dirty

Meaning:

Things that are fixed with great speed, but as a result, it probably is not going to work very well.

Example: Blake’s bike had a wheel come off. It was broken, so he took it to his brother for repairs. His brother fixed it, but he it was a quick and dirty fix. It should work well enough until Blake can get a new bike.


Origin:

This phrase looks to be a recent one, appearing somewhere between the early to mid 20th century. It alludes to things that are fixed with haste, but because the fix was done in a hurry, it tends to come at a price, making it ‘dirty.’ Basically, the problem was fixed, but it wasn’t done particularly well.

This expression goes back to at least the 1890s, or at least, that’s the earliest I could find it in writing. I’m not entirely sure if the meaning was different back then, but an example of it is written in The Riverine Herald newspaper, Septemeber 1897:

“‘I’m what they would call a dirty cook.’ The witness was very grave, but the court roared. ‘Oh! I see,’ said Mr. O’dwyer, ‘you are ‘quick and dirty.’ “

​Another example, this one four years earlier and also from The Riverine Herald newspaper, July 1893:

“Now then, Bill, cuss yer, sling that ere tar about, quick and dirty, and don’t let the flies got on yer,’ and so on.”

Example Sentence(s)

  1. My dog chewed through an electric cord that powered my television. My quick and dirty solution for this was to patch it up with some tape. It seems to work… for now

Tip: We have the phrase meanings for many expressions, so if you have one in mind, just use our alphabetical list to find it. 
 
Also, did you know the origins for many idioms are unclear? Yeah, and so when that happens, what you’ll see listed are explanations that talk about how an idiom may have come about, but not necessarily so. If there is explanation listed on the page as to a phrase’s origins, then there will at least typically be a quote that can give you an idea on how old the phrase is. These quotes are generally the oldest I could find of the phrase in print, though it is possible that older citations exist and I missed them.

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