besmirch

play
verb be·smirch \bi-ˈsmərch, bē-\

Definition of besmirch

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  sully, soil besmirching her reputation High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed … — R. A. Newhall

besmirch was our Word of the Day on 03/14/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of besmirch in a Sentence

  1. inconsiderately besmirched the white bedsheets with their dirty feet

Recent Examples of besmirch from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Since the prefix be- in besmirch means "to make or cause to be," when you besmirch something, you cause it to have a smirch. What's a smirch? A smirch is a stain, and "to smirch" is to stain or make dirty. By extension, "to smirch" came to mean "to bring discredit or disgrace on." "Smirch" and "besmirch," then, mean essentially the same thing. We have William Shakespeare to thank for the variation in form. Shakespeare's 1599 use of the term in Henry V is the first known appearance of "besmirch" in English.

First Known Use of besmirch

circa 1616


BESMIRCH Defined for English Language Learners

besmirch

play
verb

Definition of besmirch for English Language Learners

  • : to cause harm or damage to (the reputation of someone or something)



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to fight against or to call in question

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!