Soil at varying depths.
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  • IPA(key): /sɔɪl/, [sɔɪ̯ɫ]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔɪl

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English soile, soyle, sule (ground, earth), partly from Anglo-Norman soyl (bottom, ground, pavement), from Latin solium (seat, chair; throne), mistaken for Latin solum (ground, foundation, earth, sole of the foot); and partly from Old English sol (mud, mire, wet sand), from Proto-Germanic *sulą (mud, spot), from Proto-Indo-European *sūl- (thick liquid). Cognate with Middle Low German söle (dirt, mud), Middle Dutch sol (dirt, filth), Middle High German sol, söl (dirt, mud, mire), Danish søle (mud, muck). Compare French seuil (level; threshold) and sol (soil, earth; ground). See also sole, soal, solum.

Alternative formsEdit


soil (countable and uncountable, plural soils)

  1. (uncountable) A mixture of mineral particles and organic material, used to support plant growth.
  2. (uncountable) The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants.
  3. (uncountable) The unconsolidated mineral or organic matter on the surface of the earth that has been subjected to and shows effects of genetic and environmental factors of: climate (including water and temperature effects), and macro- and microorganisms, conditioned by relief, acting on parent material over a period of time. A product-soil differs from the material from which it is derived in many physical, chemical, biological, and morphological properties and characteristics.
  4. Country or territory.
    The refugees returned to their native soil.
    Kenyan soil
    • 2020 October 27, Phoonphongphiphat, Apornrath; Masayuki, Yuda, “Thailand protesters query German embassy on absent king”, in Nikkei Asia[1], Nikkei Inc, retrieved 2020-10-27:
      Pro-democracy demonstrations in the Thai capital saw Germany's embassy become the focus Monday as the throngs of protesters gathered in front of the mission asked Berlin to investigate whether King Maha Vajiralongkorn is inappropriately conducting state business on German soil.
  5. That which soils or pollutes; a stain.
    • 1690, John Dryden, Don Sebastian, King of Portugal: A Tragedy Acted at the Theatre Royal, London: Jo. Hindmarſh, Act V, page 118:
      And ſince not only a dead Fathers fame, / But more a Ladies honour muſt be touch’d, / Which nice as Ermines will not bear a Soil ; / Let all retire ; that you alone may hear / What ev’n in whiſpers I won’d tell your ear.
  6. A marshy or miry place to which a hunted boar resorts for refuge; hence, a wet place, stream, or tract of water, sought for by other game, as deer.
  7. Dung; compost; manure.
    night soil
    • 1707, J[ohn] Mortimer, “Of Manuring, Dunging, and Soiling of Land”, in The Whole Art of Husbandry; Or, The Way of Managing and Improving of Land, 2nd edition, London: J. H. for H. Mortlock, and J. Robinſon, published 1708, page 66:
      HAving given you an Account of the way of ordering of Meadows, Paſtures and Arable Land, with ſeveral Sorts of Improvement of them ; I ſhall in the next place proceed to give an Account of the ſeveral ways uſed to improve Land by Manure, Dung, and other Sort of Soils.
Derived termsEdit
Related termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English soilen, soulen, suylen (to sully, make dirty), partly from Old French soillier, souillier (to soil, make dirty, wallow in mire), from Old Frankish *sauljan, *sulljan (to make dirty, soil); partly from Old English solian, sylian (to soil, make dirty), from Proto-Germanic *sulwōną, *sulwijaną, *saulijaną (to soil, make dirty), from Proto-Indo-European *sūl- (thick liquid). Cognate with Old Frisian sulia (to soil, mire), Middle Dutch soluwen, seulewen (to soil, besmirch), Old High German solōn, bisulen (to make dirty), German suhlen (to soil, make dirty), Danish søle (to make dirty, defile), Swedish söla (to soil, make dirty), Gothic 𐌱𐌹𐍃𐌰𐌿𐌻𐌾𐌰𐌽 (bisauljan, to bemire). Compare sully.


soil (third-person singular simple present soils, present participle soiling, simple past and past participle soiled)

  1. (transitive) To make dirty.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VIII”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 1073–1080:
      [] Bad Fruit of Knowledge, if this be to know, / Which leaves us naked thus, of Honour void, / Of innocence, of Faith, of Puritie, / Our wonted Ornaments now ſoild and ſtaind, / And in our Faces evident the ſignes / Of foul concupiſcence ; whence eveil ſtore ; / Even ſhame, the laſt of evils ; of the firſt / Be ſure then.
  2. (intransitive) To become dirty or soiled.
    Light colours soil sooner than dark ones.
  3. (transitive, figuratively) To stain or mar, as with infamy or disgrace; to tarnish; to sully.
  4. (reflexive) To dirty one's clothing by accidentally defecating while clothed.
  5. To make invalid, to ruin.
  6. To enrich with soil or muck; to manure.
    • 1676 April 30, Robert South, “A Sermon Preached at Westminster Abbey”, in Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, volume I, New York: Hurd and Houghton, published 1866, page 176:
      For to be kind to the former is traffic ; and in these times men present, just as they soil their ground, not that they love the dirt, but that they expect a crop : and for the latter, the politician well approves of the Indian’s religion, in worshiping the devil, that he may do him no hurt ; how much soever he hates him, and is hated by him.
Derived termsEdit


soil (plural soils)

  1. (uncountable, euphemistic) Faeces or urine etc. when found on clothes.
  2. (countable, medicine) A bag containing soiled items.
  • (faeces or urine etc.): dirt

Etymology 3Edit

From Middle English soyl, from Old French soil, souil (quagmire, marsh), from Frankish *sōlja, *saulja (mire, miry place, wallow), from Proto-Germanic *saulijō (mud, puddle, feces), from Proto-Indo-European *sūl- (thick liquid). Cognate with Old English syle, sylu, sylen (miry place, wallow), Old High German sol, gisol (miry place), German Suhle (a wallow, mud pit, muddy pool).


soil (plural soils)

  1. A wet or marshy place in which a boar or other such game seeks refuge when hunted.

Etymology 4Edit

From Old French saoler, saouler (to satiate).


soil (third-person singular simple present soils, present participle soiling, simple past and past participle soiled)

  1. To feed, as cattle or horses, in the barn or an enclosure, with fresh grass or green food cut for them, instead of sending them out to pasture; hence (due to such food having the effect of purging them) to purge by feeding on green food.
    to soil a horse
Derived termsEdit






  1. bald

See alsoEdit



Cognate with Assamese চাউল (saul), Bengali চাল (cal), Hindi चावल (cāval)



  1. rice