asperse

verb

as·​perse ə-ˈspərs How to pronounce asperse (audio)
a-
aspersed; aspersing

transitive verb

1
: sprinkle
especially : to sprinkle with holy water
2
: to attack with evil reports or false or injurious charges

Did you know?

Asperse Has Latin Roots

You may be more familiar with the idea of "casting aspersions" than with aspersing, although they mean essentially the same thing; the word aspersion can mean "a sprinkling with water" or, more commonly, "a false or misleading charge meant to harm someone's reputation." Both asperse and aspersion are descendants of the Latin verb aspergere, meaning "to sprinkle." Asperse is the older word, dating to at least 1490; aspersion is known to have first appeared in print in English in the latter half of the 1500s.

Choose the Right Synonym for asperse

malign, traduce, asperse, vilify, calumniate, defame, slander mean to injure by speaking ill of.

malign suggests specific and often subtle misrepresentation but may not always imply deliberate lying.

the most maligned monarch in British history

traduce stresses the resulting ignominy and distress to the victim.

so traduced the governor that he was driven from office

asperse implies continued attack on a reputation often by indirect or insinuated detraction.

both candidates aspersed the other's motives

vilify implies attempting to destroy a reputation by open and direct abuse.

no criminal was more vilified in the press

calumniate imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions.

falsely calumniated as a traitor

defame stresses the actual loss of or injury to one's good name.

sued them for defaming her reputation

slander stresses the suffering of the victim.

town gossips slandered their good name

Examples of asperse in a Sentence

how dare you asperse the character of our dedicated pastor!

Word History

Etymology

Latin aspersus, past participle of aspergere, from ad- + spargere to scatter — more at spark

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of asperse was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near asperse

Cite this Entry

“Asperse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/asperse. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

asperse

verb
as·​perse ə-ˈspərs How to pronounce asperse (audio)
a-
aspersed; aspersing
: to attack with evil reports or false charges : slander
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