Simple Definition of besmirch
: to cause harm or damage to (the reputation of someone or something)
Examples of besmirch in a sentence
<inconsiderately besmirched the white bedsheets with their dirty feet>
Did You Know?
Since the prefix be- in besmirch means "to make or cause to be," when you besmirch something, you cause it to have a smirch. What's a smirch? A smirch is a stain, and "to smirch" is to stain or make dirty. By extension, "to smirch" came to mean "to bring discredit or disgrace on." "Smirch" and "besmirch," then, mean essentially the same thing. We have William Shakespeare to thank for the variation in form. Shakespeare's 1599 use of the term in Henry V is the first known appearance of "besmirch" in English.
First Known Use of besmirch
Seen and Heard
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