Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Why do dust bins have the phrase "Do not Litter"? I checked the dictionary meaning - litter means garbage or waste. Aren't dustbins meant for that ?

share|improve this question
    
Related (but not duplicate): english.stackexchange.com/q/6275/8019 –  TimLymington May 15 '12 at 8:36
add comment

3 Answers 3

I'm guessing that, when you checked the dictionary, you focused on the word's meaning as a noun. If the signmaker's intent was to prevent you from putting litter in the dustbin, then the sign would read "No Litter" or "Not for Litter" (or maybe "Recyclables Only").

Instead, the word is being used as a verb. As a verb, litter means "to scatter around a certain place," or "to strew with garbage" (see Definitions 8 and 9 of litter).

So, the sign is exhorting citizens to use the trashcan, as opposed to throwing their rubbish on the ground.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Litter is trash laying around on the ground.

The message on the trash bin do not litter is telling you not to trow your trash just anywhere, put it in the garbage can.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Exactly! "Do not litter" says do not put the garbage anywhere else but inside.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.