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[bih-smurch] /bɪˈsmɜrtʃ/
verb (used with object)
to soil; tarnish; discolor.
to detract from the honor or luster of:
to besmirch someone's good name.
Origin of besmirch
First recorded in 1590-1600; be- + smirch
Related forms
besmircher, noun
unbesmirched, adjective
2. stain, tarnish, soil, blacken, dishonor, discredit, sully, besmear. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for besmirched
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Quite close to the young lovers a heathen cut down a Christian who was carrying the besmirched head of a Muse.

    Serapis, Complete Georg Ebers
  • The walls were bare and besmirched, and upon them were several mottoes and placards.

    The Quest Frederik van Eeden
  • Maria had to see the face of her demigod become pale and besmirched with dust.

  • These do fear lest they be besmirched by fellowship with the mean and ailing.

    Star of Mercia Blanche Devereux
  • His hair sticks out through his hat, his face is besmirched, his fingers are covered with soot.

    The Key to Success Russell H. Conwell
  • Not content with vilifying the father, he besmirched the character of Paula's mother.

    John Marsh's Millions Charles Klein
  • "Let my name be besmirched, provided only my country is saved," is Quesnel's answer to Teulier.

    Romain Rolland Stefan Zweig
  • Right wrathful and heavy was she, because of the words that had besmirched her.

  • Oh, I have heard of this affair, a vulgar tavern brawl, the fifth in which his name has been involved and besmirched.

    The Suitors of Yvonne Raphael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for besmirched


verb (transitive)
to make dirty; soil
to reduce the brightness or lustre of
to sully (often in the phrase besmirch (a person's) name)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for besmirched



1590s, from be- + smirch.

Our Gayness and our Gilt are all besmyrcht. ["Henry V," IV.iii.110]
Related: Besmirched; besmirching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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