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

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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 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, "Go ... Nimrods? The odd origins of team names.," 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, "With prestige and contract bonuses on the line, why did the NCAA choose to not create March Madness brackets?," 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, "Fight over DNA in Texas cold case highlights pros, cons of so-called familial searching," 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, "The Heisenberg Limit Has Been Redefined," 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, "Jay Sekulow cites FISA 'attack' in jab at Adam Schiff and other impeachment managers," 28 Jan. 2020 Soon, he is forced to abandon Sita again after aspersions are cast over her character. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Ram: The gentle, tragic prince who became the face of aggressive Hindu nationalism," 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, "A Purple Heart, Combat Badge and Ranger Tab: Vindman Sends a Message," 20 Nov. 2019 This isn't to cast aspersions at Collison, who retired over the summer. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Pacers' pick-and-roll opens doors for better offense despite missing key starters," 14 Nov. 2019

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.

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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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Cite this Entry

“Aspersion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aspersion

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