transitive verb

be·​smudge bi-ˈsməj How to pronounce besmudge (audio)
besmudged; besmudging; besmudges
: to soil or tarnish (someone or something) with or as if with a blurry spot or stain : smudge
She looked up at him, raising her swollen eyelids with a great effort, in a sorrowful expression of her drooping mouth, of her whole besmudged and tear-stained face.Joseph Conrad, An Outcast of the Islands, 1896
Just as she turned onto aisle 14 … she crossed the path of Button Bowles, the famous advertising genius, who announced he had secretly obtained her husband's favorite shirt and then proceeded to besmudge it with chocolate syrup and axle grease.Tom Shales, Washington Post, 30 Oct. 1979
Northrop's unpopularity besmudged Davis when the war began to go so badly for the South.James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, 2003
Thomas Penn was most upset that his reputation as an honorable man had been besmudged by Sir William's insinuations.Beth Fowkes Tobin, Picturing Imperial Power, 1999
… the moralists pointed to his presumption as proof that money had so besmudged the polished brightwork of the American political machinery that the presidency had become an office as easily bought as a municipal judgeship or a seat in the United States Senate.Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, April 1996

Word History

First Known Use

1824, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of besmudge was in 1824

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Cite this Entry

“Besmudge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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