Quick and Dirty


The phrase quick and dirty means doing something fast, but the overall result may not be the best quality since it was done so quickly.

Example: After Owen mowed his front lawn, there were still patches of long grass in several areas. His quick and dirty mowing was not the best, but he thought it was decent enough. (In other words, the quality of his yard work was mediocre because he rushed through it instead of taking the time to do it properly.)


How old is this phrase? The earliest I could find the saying quick and dirty in print is near the end of the 19th century. For example, 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 coming 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.”

This expression is often used in connection with things that are fixed quickly. The implication seems to be that because the fix was done in a hurry, it probably wasn’t done particularly well, thus the ‘dirty’ part of the phrase.

Example Sentences For ‘Quick and Dirty’

Here are a couple examples of this phrase in a sentence:

  • I accidentally spilled some paint on my carpet last week. I’m not sure how to clean it, so for now my quick and dirty solution is to cover it up with a rug.
  • My plastic lint roller snapped in half while I was using it, so I ordered another one. While I wait for the new one to arrive, a quick and dirty fix I tried was gluing the roller back together.

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