besmirch

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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

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.

Circa 1616

First Known Use of besmirch

circa 1616


BESMIRCH Defined for English Language Learners

besmirch

play
verb be·smirch \bi-ˈsmərch, bē-\

Definition of besmirch for English Language Learners

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



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