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Refuse vs Waste vs Rubbish vs Trash vs Debris vs Garbage vs Offal

Refusewasterubbishtrashdebrisgarbageoffal can all mean matter that is regarded as worthless and fit only for throwing away.

Refuse, ordinarily the most comprehensive term of the group, stresses the rejection of the matter, or its uselessness from the point of view of the owner (as a manufacturer, processor, builder, or housekeeper) and usually implies its being cast aside or thrown away. The term includes anything covered by this description without regard to whether another will find use for it.

Waste may also be a comprehensive term approaching refuse in meaning, but it typically applies to material that is unused by its producer but can or could be useful in other ways or in other circumstances or to other people.

Rubbish is likely to mean an accumulation of useless material and worn-out, broken-down, used up, worthless things.

Trash stresses material of no account (as something worn-out or exhausted of what was good in it or parts discarded in shaping, trimming, or clipping). In general use trash is often employed in place of rubbish as a name for waste materials requiring disposition, but both terms in this sense usually exclude refuse that is animal or vegetable matter.

Debris usually applies to what remains from the breaking up, the disintegration, or the destruction of something (as a building, a wall, or a tree); the term usually suggests a loose accumulation of detritus or broken fragments.

Garbage chiefly applies to organic refuse (as from a kitchen, a store, or a market) including waste of animal or vegetable origin or animal or vegetable matter that is or is regarded as unfit for human food.

Offal may refer to something (as chips of wood or pieces of leather) cut off in dressing or fitting for use, but the term is usually applied specifically to the parts of a butchered animal that are removed in dressing the carcass, that consist chiefly of viscera (as liver, kidneys, and heart) and of trimmings (as tail, hooves, blood, and head meat), and that include edible meats and raw materials for processing as well as refuse. But offal may also be applied to carrion and other worthless or distasteful refuse and tends then and in extended use to stress offensiveness or disagreeableness.

All these terms except waste also have extended use; refuse refers usually to something left after the available supply has been thoroughly picked over and therefore implies the worst, the meanest, or the least desirable of the lot.

Rubbish may be applied to something (as inferior merchandise or a ridiculous or nonsensical idea, argument, or discussion) that in its worthlessness suggests a heap of trash.

Trash retains its implication of relative worthlessness.

Debris may be applied to something immaterial or intangible that remains as evidence of what the original thing once was.

Garbage also may be applied to something that in comparison with other things of the same sort may be described as filthy or foul.

Offal ordinarily applies to persons considered as the lowest or meanest of refuse or as offscourings.