1. an open, relatively shallow container of pottery, glass, metal, wood, etc., used for various purposes, especially for holding or serving food.
  2. any container used at table: dirty dishes.
  3. the food served or contained in a dish: The meal consisted of several dishes.
  4. a particular article, type, or preparation of food: Rice is an inexpensive dish.
  5. the quantity held by a dish; dishful: a dish of applesauce.
  6. anything like a dish in form or use.
  7. concavity or the degree of concavity, as of a wheel.
  8. Also called dish antenna. a concave, dish-shaped reflector serving to focus electromagnetic energy as part of a transmitter or receiver of radio, television, or microwave signals.
  9. Slang. an attractive person, especially a female: His wife is quite a dish.
  10. Slang. an item of gossip.

verb (used with object)

  1. to put into or serve in a dish, as food: to dish food onto plates.
  2. to fashion like a dish; make concave.
  3. Slang. to gossip about: They talked all night, dishing their former friends.
  4. Slang. to defeat; frustrate; cheat.

verb (used without object)

  1. Slang. to talk together informally, especially, to gossip.

Verb Phrases

  1. dish out, Informal.
    1. to serve (food) from a serving dish, pot, etc.
    2. to deal out; distribute: She dished out our pay in silver dollars.
  1. dish it out, Informal. to dispense abusive language, punishment, or praise, enthusiastic approval, etc.: When it comes to flattery, he can really dish it out.


  1. a container used for holding or serving food, esp an open shallow container of pottery, glass, etc
  2. the food that is served or contained in a dish
  3. a particular article or preparation of fooda local fish dish
  4. Also called: dishful the amount contained in a dish
  5. something resembling a dish, esp in shape
  6. a concavity or depression
  7. short for dish aerial, satellite dish aerial
  8. informal an attractive person
  9. informal something that one particularly enjoys or excels in

verb (tr)

  1. to put into a dish
  2. to make hollow or concave
  3. British informal to ruin or spoilhe dished his chances of getting the job

Old English disc “plate, bowl, platter,” from Latin discus “dish, platter, quoit,” from Greek diskos “disk, platter” (see disk). A common West Germanic borrowing; Old High German borrowed the word as tisc “plate,” but German tisch now means “table,” in common with other later Romanic forms (e.g. Italian desco, French dais). Meaning “particular variety of food served” is first recorded mid-15c. Meaning “what one likes” is c.1900; that of “attractive woman” is 1920s. Meaning “concave reflector or antenna” attested from 1948.


“to serve food,” late 14c., from dish (n.). Meaning “to disparage, denigrate” first recorded 1940s; probably from the same notion in figurative dish it out “administer punishment” (1934). Related: Dished; dishing.

In addition to the idioms beginning with dish

  • dish out
  • dish the dirt

also see:

  • do the dishes

Also see underdishwater.

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