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 true intent of the brief, however, is to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Court itself. David French, National Review, "To Save a Bad Gun Law, Democratic Senators Threaten the Supreme Court," 15 Aug. 2019 Liverpool already possess arguably the most deadly frontline in England, which also casts aspersions over any potential deal of that size for them., "Nicolas Pepe Has 'Heart Set on Premier League Move' Despite Liverpool's Stance on Lille Forward," 29 June 2019 To cast such trite aspersions is like saying that women can’t have long hair the other side of 40. Longreads, "True Roots," 5 June 2019 For years, Chief Justice Roberts remained silent as Mr. Trump goaded the judiciary with tweets on individual judges and cast aspersions that political agendas rather than legal reasoning had prompted courts to rule against him. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Chief Justice Roberts Rebuts Trump’s Attacks on Judges, and President Tweets Back," 21 Nov. 2018 In the case of Khadija, relatives of some of the suspects and others have come forward to cast aspersions on her character. Fox News, "Harrowing account of tortured teen sparks outcry in Morocco," 30 Aug. 2018 Yvonne is distraught, casting ugly aspersions on Madeleine. Robert Abele,, "Review: Jean Cocteau's masterful 1948 'Les Parents Terribles' is a treat for movie lovers," 12 July 2018 Kananaugh remarks were clearly aimed at the Clinton administration, which did cast aspersions on the Starr investigation as a politicized attack that went beyond the limits of its inquiry. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Trump won’t like Brett Kavanaugh’s position on independent investigations of the White House.," 12 July 2018 Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was bombarded with hundreds of questions from fans via Twitter — along with declarations of adoration and the occasional aspersions — ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting on June 5th. Kirsten Korosec, The Verge, "Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting will decide Elon Musk’s future," 5 June 2018

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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Statistics for aspersion

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for aspersion

The first known use of aspersion was circa 1587

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More from Merriam-Webster on aspersion

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with aspersion

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aspersion

Spanish Central: Translation of aspersion

Nglish: Translation of aspersion for Spanish Speakers

Comments on aspersion

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


to make a temporary encampment

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