Meaning of SOIL in English


I. soil 1 W2 /sɔɪl/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Anglo-French ; Origin: 'piece of ground' , from Latin solium 'seat' ; influenced by Latin solum 'ground, soil' ]

1 . [uncountable and countable] the top layer of the earth in which plants grow SYN earth :

fertile soil (=good for growing crops)

The soil here is very poor (=not good for growing crops) .

Roses grow well in a clay soil.

2 . on British/French/foreign etc soil formal in Britain, France etc:

The crime was committed on American soil.

3 . [uncountable] a place or situation where something can develop:

Eastern Europe provided fertile soil for political activists.

4 . sb’s native soil literary your own country

5 . the soil literary farming as a job or way of life:

They make their living from the soil.

• • •



▪ good/rich/fertile (=good for growing plants)

The fertile soil produces delicious wines.

▪ poor (=not good for growing plants)

If the soil is poor, add manure or compost.

▪ deep

The soil near the river is rich and deep.

▪ thin (=not deep)

The thin soil is easily washed away.

▪ moist/dry

Keep the soil moist.


The soil was dry after three weeks without rain.

▪ light/sandy (=containing a lot of sand)

Some plants prefer sandy soils.

▪ heavy/clay (=containing a lot of clay)

The soil was too heavy to grow decent carrots.

▪ well-drained (=letting water pass through easily)

Plant the seedlings out in a warm, sunny position in well-drained soil.

▪ acid/alkaline

Blueberries need acid soil.

▪ garden soil

Try planting them in compost rather than garden soil.

■ verbs

▪ work the soil (=prepare the soil to grow plants)

They worked the soil with hoes and forks.

▪ till the soil (=prepare the soil to grow crops)

Their time is spent in constantly tilling the soil.

• • •


▪ soil the top layer of the earth that plants grow in:

Roses do best in well-drained, slightly acid soil.

▪ earth the brown substance that the ground is made up of:

Thousands of tons of earth were moved to build the dam.

▪ dirt American English loose dry earth:

a pile of loose dirt in the wheelbarrow

▪ dust a dry powder made up of extremely small bits of earth or sand:

A cloud of dust billowed out behind the tractor.

▪ mud wet soil that has become soft and sticky:

The dog came back covered in mud.

II. soil 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: soiller , from soil 'pigsty' , probably from Latin suile , from sus 'pig' ]

1 . formal to make something dirty, especially with waste from your body

2 . not soil your hands to not do something because you consider it too unpleasant or dishonest:

Keep your money – I wouldn’t soil my hands with it.

—soiled adjective :

soiled diapers

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.