What's the Difference Between Soil and Dirt?

For today’s answer, we’re turning to Patrick Megonigal, an ecosystem ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. According to Megonigal, as told to Science Newssoil is:

the compilation of minerals, air, water, animals and other living matter (and their wastes or decaying bodies) that accumulate in layers and become compacted over time. 

These layers—or “horizons”—are defined as the topsoil, subsoil, and parent soil.
And dirt? Megonigal defines dirt as “displaced soil.”
Huh? How could that be? I checked in with Frank R. Spellman’s book Contaminated Sediments in Freshwater Systems, and he agrees:

Dirt is misplaced soil—soil where we don’t want it, contaminating our hands or clothes, tracked in on the floor.

So there you have it, folks. Everything is subjective. Nothing is real. Dirt is just displaced soil. Happy Tuesday!

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