\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from smear


smearer noun

Synonyms for smear

Synonyms: Verb

anoint, bedaub, besmear, daub

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Many Republicans said there was little evidence for the accusation and cast it as a smear campaign. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Attorney General Nominee William Barr to Face Questions From Senators," 13 Jan. 2019 Van Jones wrote a book about green jobs back in 2008 and even worked briefly as an Obama green jobs adviser, before a right-wing smear campaign drove him from the administration. David Roberts, Vox, "The Green New Deal, explained," 21 Dec. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the energetic swirl of allegorical motifs and internal references, in smearing the line between figuration and abstraction, Kokoschka emerges as a forerunner of artists like R.B. Kitaj and Georg Baselitz. A.j. Goldmann, WSJ, "‘Oskar Kokoschka—Expressionist, Migrant, European. A Retrospective’ Review: Longevity as Blessing and Curse," 2 Jan. 2019 That has emboldened people like Mr. Stafeyev, who says Stalin has been smeared as part of a campaign, seeded by the West, to undermine the Soviet Union and Russia. James Marson, WSJ, "The Case of the Disappearing Stalin Statue Roils a Russian City," 22 Oct. 2018 Store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container and smear it on your next roast beef or turkey sandwich. Claire Perez,, "How to make your own aioli sauce," 13 July 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about smear

Dictionary Entries near smear



sm cap



smear dab

smear dock

Statistics for smear

Last Updated

20 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smear

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


irregularly rounded

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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