In particular, is it proper to say “10 tons of landfill”, or do you have to say “10 tons of landfill waste” or similar?

  • Timwi, you need to (a) look in the dictionaries of your choice; (b) report any inconsistencies here; and only then (c) ask your question.
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 16, 2013 at 16:18
  • There is the problem here that the answers to this question 'given' (suggested) by commonly-available references are dependent on which commonly-available reference is treated as the most authoritative. Perhaps we could agree to go with OED's allowed polysemes (see my comment below)? Sep 18, 2013 at 7:58
  • No, you don't "have to say" 10 tons of landfill waste or 10 tons of landfill dirt. The phrase 10 tons of landfill is fine on its own, and it is in fact found in many published works. If you peruse this list, you'll see plenty of references that go both ways; some using landfill waste, or landfill garbage, while others simply say tons of landfill, and leave it to the reader to figure out what kind of landfill it is, based on surrounding context.
    – J.R.
    Sep 19, 2013 at 9:27
  • Just in case that link doesn't work, I'll just quote a few examples: (1) Even after recycling, 11.8 percent of the 8 million tons of landfill is made up of plastic. (2) estimates calculate that meeting/convention attendees will produce nearly 730,000 tons of landfill per year. (3) the storms prompted the city to build a 12-mile-long, 17-foot-high seawall along the Gulf, and workers literally raised the island grade level by up to 12 feet, using tons of landfill. The first two references seem to be using the word landfill to mean "garbage"; but the third likely refers to dirt and rock.
    – J.R.
    Sep 19, 2013 at 9:37

1 Answer 1



If you WERE to refer to it as such, "10 tons of landfill" would roughly mean "10 tons of material stacked in layers of dirt".

The material itself CAN be referred to as "landfill" according to an Oxford definition, but the prominent definition seems to be for the process and place, with its usage defining it as 'the material which is found therein' being more rare.

  • Sorry but downvoted this. I asked 3 coworkers, and we all agree... Landfill is a place. Looks like Oxford is British meaning or it needs to be updated. Sep 16, 2013 at 16:06
  • Different usage in different parts of the world perhaps? I'd like to see someone with more experience in American vs. British English weigh in on this, but at the very least it does appear to be an accepted use of the word, if maybe a bit more rare. For now, I'll edit the answer to call it a more rare use of the word.
    – Zibbobz
    Sep 16, 2013 at 16:21
  • @Zibbobz - I hate downvoting... just add a little context to your region on the answer. Sep 16, 2013 at 16:24

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