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verb (used with object)
  1. to soil; tarnish; discolor.
  2. to detract from the honor or luster of: to besmirch someone's good name.
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Origin of besmirch

First recorded in 1590–1600; be- + smirch
Related formsbe·smirch·er, nounun·be·smirched, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for besmirch

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Xenie, will you permit this man to besmirch the name of him whom God hath sent to you?

    The Minister of Evil

    William Le Queux

  • Also I want to besmirch the rich, by designating them by a slang expression.


    Ludwig Thoma

  • It was too beautiful to risk or endanger or besmirch with any danger of scandal.

    Excuse Me!

    Rupert Hughes

  • She had nothing but her reputation, and I was about to besmirch it!

  • I will idealise you until you besmirch yourself—but you are no child, to do that unknowingly.

    The Barrier

    Allen French

British Dictionary definitions for besmirch


verb (tr)
  1. to make dirty; soil
  2. to reduce the brightness or lustre of
  3. to sully (often in the phrase besmirch (a person's) name)
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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

Word Origin and History for besmirch


1590s, from be- + smirch.

Our Gayness and our Gilt are all besmyrcht. ["Henry V," IV.iii.110]

Related: Besmirched; besmirching.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper