as·​per·​sion | \ ə-ˈspər-zhən How to pronounce aspersion (audio) , -shən \

Definition of aspersion

1a : a false or misleading charge meant to harm someone's reputation casting aspersions on her integrity
b : the act of making such a charge : defamation
2 : a sprinkling with water especially in religious ceremonies the aspersion of the congregation before Mass

Aspersion Did Not Always Have Negative Connotations

No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall / To make this contract grow. In this line from Shakespeare's The Tempest, "aspersion" literally refers to a sprinkling of rain, but figuratively means "blessing." Shakespeare's use is true to the heritage of the term. "Aspersion" comes from the Latin word aspersus, itself a derivative of the verb "aspergere," which means "to sprinkle" or "to scatter." When "aspersion" first appeared in English in the 16th century, it referred to the type of sprinklings (for instance, of holy water) that occur in religious ceremonies. But English speakers noted that splatterings can soil and stain, and by the end of the century "aspersion" was also being used for reports that stain or tarnish a reputation.

Examples of aspersion in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Though Smith’s actions cast no aspersion on the sisters, his win for playing their father was stained with apology rather than triumph, and that’s too bad. Los Angeles Times, 28 Mar. 2022 The Dodgers is not a vague aspersion on the character of Brooklynites, where the team, now in Los Angeles, was formed. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Nov. 2020 But without casting aspersions here, and Pebley and Drew seem sincere in their suggestions, a large, large number of coaches have bonus clauses for making the NCAA Tournament. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, 15 Mar. 2020 But skeptics argue that the practice unfairly casts aspersions on large groups of family members who are likely uninvolved in crime. Tony Plohetski, USA TODAY, 16 Feb. 2020 Lead author Wojciech Górecki is careful to point out his team’s work isn’t meant to cast aspersions at previous working models of the Heisenberg limit. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 4 Feb. 2020 President Trump’s legal team used the Senate impeachment trial as a platform to chide Democrats for casting aspersions on allegations of surveillance abuse against the 2016 Trump campaign. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, 28 Jan. 2020 Soon, he is forced to abandon Sita again after aspersions are cast over her character. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, 9 Nov. 2019 But he was hit with all manner of aspersions about his national devotion, his judgment, even his right to wear his uniform in this setting. Mark Leibovich, New York Times, 20 Nov. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aspersion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of aspersion

circa 1587, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for aspersion

see asperse

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The first known use of aspersion was circa 1587

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Last Updated

9 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Aspersion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aspersion

Nglish: Translation of aspersion for Spanish Speakers


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