\ ˈsmir \

Definition of smear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a viscous or sticky substance
b : a spot made by or as if by an unctuous or adhesive substance
2 : material smeared on a surface (as of a microscopic slide) also : a preparation made by smearing material on a surface a vaginal smear
3 : a usually unsubstantiated charge or accusation against a person or organization often used attributively a smear campaigna smear job


smeared; smearing; smears

Definition of smear (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to overspread with something unctuous, viscous, or adhesive : daub smeared the paper with glue
b : to spread over a surface
2a : to stain, smudge, or dirty by or as if by smearing
b : sully, besmirch specifically : to vilify especially by secretly and maliciously spreading grave charges and imputations
3 : to obliterate, obscure, blur, blend, wipe out, or defeat by or as if by smearing

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Other Words from smear


smearer noun

Synonyms for smear

Synonyms: Verb

anoint, bedaub, besmear, daub

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Examples of smear in a Sentence


The blood smear revealed malaria.


The children smeared the window with fingerprints. She smeared jam on her toast. Butter was smeared all over the counter. Her mascara smeared when she cried.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Democratic smears against Brett Kavanaugh brought enough Republicans home to save the Senate in GOP-leaning states, but not enough to save the House in swing districts. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Democratic House," 7 Nov. 2018 But to use the N-word to explain that Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, often uttered the racist smear? Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Dear John: This breakup isn't about us, it's about you and the N-word," 12 July 2018 These false allegations are part of a smear campaign . . Bridget Read, Vogue, "Google Employees Stage a Walkout Over the Sexual Harassment Scandal," 1 Nov. 2018 Russian authorities deny the accusations, calling them part of a global smear campaign. Angela Charlton, The Seattle Times, "New blow to GRU: More Russian military spies exposed," 26 Oct. 2018 Its also pretty nauseating to work for someone who’d empower a smear campaign by fascists #cybernazis . Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Warner Bros. has hired ex-Marvel director James Gunn to work on a Suicide Squad sequel," 9 Oct. 2018 Schrage has been criticized internally for focusing the communications and policy teams on reactive measures, crisis communications, bipartisan politicking, and the occasional smear campaign, while doing little in the way of positive brand-building. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Mark Zuckerberg became a wartime CEO," 20 Nov. 2018 When word of his illegitimate son leaked and turned into a smear campaign against the nominee, Cleveland’s team spun the story, describing Halpin as someone who drank excessively and slept around. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "8 Men Whose Sexual Misconduct Allegations Prove It's Long Been a Big Part of U.S. Politics," 12 Oct. 2018 Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, referenced the summary on Friday to assert Kavanaugh's innocence, insisting that an unfair smear campaign had been leveled against Trump's nominee. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Brett Kavanaugh Has Been Confirmed to the Supreme Court," 6 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The women smear their bodies with paint, the men count their wealth in cattle, and the tribe communicate with the souls of ancestors through the smoke of holy fires. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018 Rescue workers smeared Vick’s Vapo-Rub under their noses to try to numb their senses against the stench. Michael Biesecker, The Seattle Times, "Hurricane could flood many waste sites, creating toxic brew," 11 Sep. 2018 Before you decide to wash it away, the liner won't smear, smudge, or run no matter how much you sweat, cry, or get caught in a torrential downpour. Devon Abelman, Allure, "M.A.C. Liquidlast Liner Is So Pigmented, People Think It's Tattooed on My Eyelids," 7 Sep. 2018 United Airlines passengers found themselves in a fetid situation when their Chicago-to-Hong Kong flight made an unscheduled landing in Alaska after a man had smeared feces all over some of the plane's bathrooms, airport officials said. Author: Lindsey Bever, Anchorage Daily News, "United flight redirected to Anchorage due to ‘passenger smearing feces everywhere’," 5 Jan. 2018 United Airlines passengers found themselves in a fetid situation when their Chicago-to-Hong Kong flight made an unscheduled landing in Alaska after a man had smeared feces all over some of the plane’s bathrooms, airport officials said. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, "A United passenger befouled the bathrooms so badly the plane had to land," 5 Jan. 2018 They are often subjected to smear-campaigns, with threats against their children and attempts to undermine their credibility commonplace; sometimes from within their own communities. Sarah Hurtes, Harper's BAZAAR, "Women Who Risk Everything to Defend the Environment," 30 Nov. 2018 They also smeared falsely accused -- remember the Duke lacrosse team? Fox News, "Reps. Meadows, Jordan call on Rosenstein to testify," 27 Sep. 2018 Trump said of the allegations against Kavanaugh, echoing Bush’s claim that Thomas had been smeared and should be allowed to clear his name. Anna North, Vox, "What George H.W. Bush’s presidency says about Trump and Kavanaugh," 3 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smear.' 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 smear


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for smear


Middle English smere, from Old English smeoru; akin to Old High German smero grease and probably to Old Irish smiur marrow

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Learn More about smear

Dictionary Entries near smear



sm cap



smear dab

smear dock

Statistics for smear

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smear

The first known use of smear was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for smear



English Language Learners Definition of smear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a dirty mark, spot, streak, etc., made by touching or rubbing something

medical : a very small sample of something (such as skin or blood) that someone examines with a microscope

: an untrue story about a person that is meant to hurt that person's reputation



English Language Learners Definition of smear (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (something) dirty by rubbing it with something else

: to spread (something) over a surface

: to spread or drip in an untidy way


\ ˈsmir \
smeared; smearing

Kids Definition of smear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to spread or soil with something oily or sticky So Bean carefully smeared white all over Ivy's face except her lips.— Annie Barrows, Ivy {ampersand} Bean
2 : to spread over a surface Her makeup smeared.
3 : to harm the reputation of (someone) with false statements



Kids Definition of smear (Entry 2 of 2)

: a spot or streak made by or as if by an oily or sticky substance : smudge


\ ˈsmi(ə)r \

Medical Definition of smear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: material spread on a surface (as of a microscopic slide) also : a preparation made by spreading material on a surface — see pap smear, vaginal smear

Medical Definition of smear (Entry 2 of 2)

: to prepare as a smear for microscopic examination : make a smear of

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More from Merriam-Webster on smear

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with smear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for smear

Spanish Central: Translation of smear

Nglish: Translation of smear for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smear for Arabic Speakers

Comments on smear

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


someone who never drinks alcohol

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