Dust is the fine, powdery substance that settles on surfaces over time or is blown around outdoors. A junk shop might be full of beautiful old furniture and books, all covered with dust.

There's the dust you clean with a feather duster, and then there's the verb "to dust." You can dust your bookshelves, cleaning the dust from them, but you can also dust the surface of a cake with powdered sugar, covering it lightly. Informally, when something "gathers dust," it goes unused, and when "the dust settles," a situation calms down.

Definitions of dust

n fine powdery material such as dry earth or pollen that can be blown about in the air

“the furniture was covered with dust
chalk dust
dust resulting from writing with a piece of chalk
fallout, radioactive dust
the radioactive particles that settle to the ground after a nuclear explosion
Type of:
particulate, particulate matter
a small discrete mass of solid or liquid matter that remains individually dispersed in gas or liquid emissions (usually considered to be an atmospheric pollutant)

n free microscopic particles of solid material

“astronomers say that the empty space between planets actually contains measurable amounts of dust
interplanetary dust
microscopic particles in the interplanetary medium
Type of:
material, stuff
the tangible substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object

n the remains of something that has been destroyed or broken up

debris, detritus, junk, rubble
dust consisting of a mixture of small coal fragments and coal dust and dirt that sifts out when coal is passed over a sieve
Type of:
rubbish, scrap, trash
worthless material that is to be disposed of

v cover with a light dusting of a substance

dust the bread with flour”
Type of:
provide with a covering or cause to be covered

v rub the dust over a surface so as to blur the outlines of a shape

“The artist dusted the charcoal drawing down to a faint image”
Type of:
blur, smear, smudge, smutch
make a smudge on; soil by smudging

v distribute loosely

disperse, dot, scatter, sprinkle
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scatter in a mass or jet of droplets
be discharged in sprays of liquid
plash, spatter, splash, splatter, splosh, swash
dash a liquid upon or against
splash, splosh, sprinkle
cause (a liquid) to spatter about, especially with force
dot or sprinkle with sparkling or glittering objects
aerosolise, aerosolize
disperse as an aerosol
spray or sprinkle with
atomise, atomize
spray very finely
spray finely or cover with mist
spray or irrigate (a body part) with a syringe
make a puddle by splashing water
slosh, slosh around, slush, slush around
spill or splash copiously or clumsily
sprinkle as if with salt
drizzle, moisten
moisten with fine drops
Type of:
pour forth or release

v remove the dust from

dust the cabinets”
Type of:
clean, make clean
make clean by removing dirt, filth, or unwanted substances from

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