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 formsbe·smirch·er, nounun·be·smirched, adjective

Synonyms for besmirch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for besmirch

defile, slander, blacken, dishonor, smear, soil, stain, blot, smudge, discolor

Examples from the Web for besmirch

Contemporary Examples of besmirch

Historical Examples of besmirch

  • 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)

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

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper