According to Oxford, a verb 'dump' means

dump something to get rid of something you do not want, especially in a place that is not suitable

Too much toxic waste is being dumped at sea.

The dead body was just dumped by the roadside.

Any vessel dumping at sea without a licence will be prosecuted.

Reading the examples, I think that the objective of this verb should be large amount(or bulky volume) of waste. Because, in general, 'toxic waste' can be wasted by a factory or a company, not an individual in the 1st sentence. and a 'vessel' might have thrown enoumous mount of garbage, not small-sized one.

Is it suitable to use this verb 'dump' for a case that an individual let a plastic bag filled with garbage on a street, or inside a park?

If not, would you recommend some alternatives?

  • 2
    Well, I just dumped a gallon of used paint thinner in the gutter. Does that make me a "company"? And the I dumped a bag of banana peels in the middle of the sidewalk.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 17 '20 at 22:42
  • And I went into the local convenience store and dumped out my coffee mug in the sink before refilling it. While outside there was a guy dumping an ash tray on the pavement.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 17 '20 at 22:45
  • 3
    "To dump" = to deposit (any amount of anything) casually, negligently or without ceremony or formality.. I can see no connection with a large amount. The Story of Two Jakes by Merlin C. Williams "When the water and corn boiled, he dumped the venison in to the pot." Obviously there was no great quantity of venison.
    – Greybeard
    Jun 17 '20 at 22:53
  • Along the lines of @Greybeard: There is nothing in the definition you cite that implies large amount or bulky quantity. Last night, some jerk dumped some crap on my front lawn, e.g., a few beer bottles and bags of McDonald's refuse. They got rid of something they didn't want in a place that was not suitable, at least as far as my front lawn was concerned. Jun 17 '20 at 23:19
  • 3
    And of course, if you dumped your girlfriend, she would not only be upset but insulted as well because you implied she was 'large'! Jun 17 '20 at 23:29

As commenters have suggested, it is natural to use the verb 'dump' for disposing of a quantity of unwanted objects in a careless or unceremonious way.

Your example of 'he dumped his garbage on the street' sounds perfectly natural to me.

This is nuanced, but it feels a little unnatural to use 'dump' if you mean 'improperly disposing of a single small object', for example 'he dumped his book in the street' sounds slightly strange to me. But if the single object is large or cumbersome, such as a body, then it is fine.

It would be natural to say 'he dumped his books', (plural) 'he dumped his coffee', (liquids or objects from a container) 'he dumped his french fries', or 'he dumped his couch' (cumbersome/large single object).

  • But one of the examples from the dictionary was dumping a single dead body.
    – Barmar
    Jun 18 '20 at 4:52
  • @Barmar - I understand your point. Yes, I think the dumping of the dead body is most similar to my example of the couch. It is a single object, but it is large or cumbersome enough that it's natural to use the verb 'dump'.
    – MDK
    Jun 19 '20 at 0:48
  • It might be helpful if you were clearer that "dump" can also be used for large objects in addition to large quantities.
    – Barmar
    Jun 19 '20 at 18:36
  • @Barmar Sure, I've updated the answer to clarify this
    – MDK
    Jun 20 '20 at 20:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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