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verb (used with object)
  1. to destroy or diminish the perfection of: The book is blemished by those long, ineffective descriptions.
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  1. a mark that detracts from appearance, as a pimple or a scar.
  2. a defect or flaw; stain; blight: a blemish on his record.
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Origin of blemish

1275–1325; Middle English (v.) < Anglo-French, Middle French blemiss-, long stem of ble(s)mir to make livid, perhaps < Old Low Franconian *blesmjan; see blaze2
Related formsblem·ish·er, nounun·blem·ished, adjectiveun·blem·ish·ing, adjective

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3. See defect.

Antonyms for blemish

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

Related Words for blemish

freckle, blot, bruise, wart, blotch, smudge, imperfection, pimple, snag, stigma, stain, scar, discoloration, sully, disgrace, disfigurement, chip, birthmark, second, sight

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Contemporary Examples of blemish

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British Dictionary definitions for blemish


  1. a defect; flaw; stain
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  1. (tr) to flaw the perfection of; spoil; tarnish
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Word Origin for blemish

C14: from Old French blemir to make pale, probably of Germanic origin
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 blemish


early 14c., "to hurt, damage," from Old French blemiss- "to turn pale," extended stem of blemir, blesmir "to make pale; stain, discolor," also "to injure" (13c., Modern French blêmir), probably from Frankish *blesmjan "to cause to turn pale," or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *blas "shining, white," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)).

The order of appearance of senses in Middle English is "hurt, damage;" "impair morally, sully" (late 14c.); "mar, spoil, injure" (early 15c.); "to mar the beauty or soundness of" (mid-15c.). Related: Blemished; blemishing.

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1520s, from blemish (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

blemish in Medicine


  1. A small circumscribed alteration of the skin considered to be unesthetic but insignificant.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.