be·​smirch | \ bi-ˈsmərch How to pronounce besmirch (audio) , bē- \
besmirched; besmirching; besmirches

Definition of besmirch

transitive verb

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for besmirch



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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.

Examples of besmirch in a Sentence

inconsiderately besmirched the white bedsheets with their dirty feet
Recent Examples on the Web But steady results eluded him and his final seasons at both schools were besmirched with losing records. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "How Michigan State football's Mark Dantonio became a victim of his own success," 12 Oct. 2019 Recently, as readers of this roundup may remember, directors like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola have been besmirching the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Wired, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," 24 Oct. 2019 The other was engaged by a fictional competitor to that company to attack its reputation on social media and besmirch its heretofore nonexistent reputation. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Rent-a-troll: Researchers pit disinformation farmers against each other," 10 Oct. 2019 D’Artagnan helps Athos, Porthos and Aramis foil Cardinal Richelieu’s plot to besmirch the queen. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 Heather Coleman, a tree biotechnologist at Syracuse University in New York, says the ban unfairly besmirches the reputation of trees modified by genetic engineering or gene editing. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Scientists say sustainable forestry organizations should lift ban on biotech trees," 23 Aug. 2019 While their results have improved in their third season, the Loons still feel besmirched. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Loons run in U.S. Open Cup continues with 6-1 win over New Mexico," 10 July 2019 Ashley insists upon besmirching my mother, her reputation, with some conspiracy theories. Dave Quinn,, "Ashley Jacobs Returns to Southern Charm, Calls Dating Thomas Ravenel 'the Worst Year of My Life'," 10 July 2019 But the four-ish minutes of TV was mesmerizing, a strange piercing of the Bravo forcefield that usually manages to keep the goings-on of the real world separate from besmirching the antics of its cast. Bridget Read, Vogue, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," 17 Apr. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of besmirch

circa 1616, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of besmirch was circa 1616

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Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Besmirch.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for besmirch


How to pronounce besmirch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of besmirch

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with besmirch

Spanish Central: Translation of besmirch

Nglish: Translation of besmirch for Spanish Speakers

Comments on besmirch

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very cautious or careful

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