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noun \ˈsmir\

Simple Definition of smear

  • : a dirty mark, spot, streak, etc., made by touching or rubbing something

  • medical : a very small sample of something (such as skin or blood) that someone examines with a microscope

  • : an untrue story about a person that is meant to hurt that person's reputation

Full Definition of smear

  1. 1a :  a viscous or sticky substanceb :  a spot made by or as if by an unctuous or adhesive substance

  2. 2 :  material smeared on a surface (as of a microscopic slide); also :  a preparation made by smearing material on a surface <a vaginal smear>

  3. 3 :  a usually unsubstantiated charge or accusation against a person or organization —often used attributively <a smear campaign> <a smear job>

Examples of smear

  1. The blood smear revealed malaria.

Origin of smear

Middle English smere, from Old English smeoru; akin to Old High German smero grease and probably to Old Irish smiur marrow

First Known Use: before 12th century



transitive verb

Simple Definition of smear

  • : to make (something) dirty by rubbing it with something else

  • : to spread (something) over a surface

  • : to spread or drip in an untidy way

Full Definition of smear

  1. 1a :  to overspread with something unctuous, viscous, or adhesive :  daub <smeared the paper with glue>b :  to spread over a surface

  2. 2a :  to stain, smudge, or dirty by or as if by smearingb :  sully, besmirch; specifically :  to vilify especially by secretly and maliciously spreading grave charges and imputations

  3. 3 :  to obliterate, obscure, blur, blend, wipe out, or defeat by or as if by smearing

smear·er noun

Examples of smear

  1. The children smeared the window with fingerprints.

  2. She smeared jam on her toast.

  3. Butter was smeared all over the counter.

  4. Her mascara smeared when she cried.

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of smear

before 12th century

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up smear? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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