To do the dirty on someone means, in Australian and British English,

to behave unfairly or very badly towards someone, often without them knowing. And then he did the dirty on her and went and had an affair with her best friend.
The free dictionary

which I think is a pretty cool and useful idiom. However, it seems it isn't used in American English, so what would be the AmE version?

IOW, how would you rephrase the sentence above so that it sounds idiomatic in AmE?:

And then he _____ (her) and went and had an affair with her best friend.

  • If it's true that idiom isn't yet recognised in US American English, why not just introduce it? Who might misunderstand? Dec 24, 2021 at 4:15

4 Answers 4


The most "American" version I can think of is to do someone wrong. You would normally phrase it as he did her wrong although in informal, idiomatic speech you sometimes see it as "done someone wrong".

  • 1
    In the Southern US, doing me/him/her dirty is used by some.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 17, 2016 at 18:00

There are several terms for what you are looking for

talk behind someone's back (both figuratively and literally)

In AmE

to do the dirty

has a completely different meaning.

  • Had no idea the British English meaning didn't mean what the UD link says! Jun 17, 2016 at 21:13

Double-crossed? Other than that, we do use "did you dirty" as an idiom sometimes but it's not very common.


Another possible American expression, though in a narrower context, is:

She threw him under the bus.

It means to maneuver in a competitive business environment in such a way that another person is positioned to receive responsibility and blame for a situation. The scapegoat is usually blindsided.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .