I am preparing a vocabulary sheet about the environment for my private students and I am stuck on one expression.

You know when you drive past some fields or in the open countryside and you come across abandoned sofas, washing machines, bath tubs, or rusting vespas that have been left there to "rot"? What do you call that type of rubbish or trash?

It's not litter because that's more to do with discarded crisp (chips) bags, paper, bottles, plastic containers and the like. It's obviously not a landfill because that is the place where all the refuse and waste is taken and then covered with soil. Can I call the act of transporting large heavy goods to intentionally abandon them in the countryside, dumping?

deposit or dispose of (garbage, waste, or unwanted material), typically in a careless or hurried way.

Is there a more specific term or phrase for this type of vandalism?

  • 1
    Cool! I started my question with "Hi, everyone" and "Hi" got automatically deleted by the system. Then I tried with "Hello everyone" and the system wiped out the entire phrase. Didn't know that.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 22, 2019 at 7:31
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    Yes, in the US, that is called dumping. That's what the law calls it. Illegal dumping
    – Phil Sweet
    Apr 22, 2019 at 10:44
  • @PhilSweet Oh, good. I mean that's bad, but it's good to know there's an alternative way of saying "fly-tipping" Could you please post it as an answer?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 22, 2019 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


It's called fly-tipping.

The unauthorized dumping of building rubble, household refuse, or other waste, esp. while in the process of transporting it.


OED has it derived from tip (obviously) and fly n.2:

  1. on the fly: (originally) on the wing, flying; (hence) in motion, moving up and down.

Note that the verb fly-tip is a back-formation from fly-tipping.

  • Yes! It was there in the antechambers of my mind.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 22, 2019 at 7:48
  • Fly-tipping is unfamiliar to me in the U.S., any coast, any city. In rural places the old truck or washing machine may just rot on the porch or in the back yard, e.g. Appalachia.
    – Xanne
    Apr 22, 2019 at 8:19
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    Interesting word, and new to me...is this also US? (But we do have cow-tipping) Apr 22, 2019 at 15:58

In the UK at least, illegally dumping rubbish, including large items, in the countryside is termed fly-tipping, from the expression on the fly meaning quickly and impulsively.

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