See more synonyms for smear on
verb (used with object)
  1. to spread or daub (an oily, greasy, viscous, or wet substance) on or over something: to smear butter on bread.
  2. to spread or daub an oily, greasy, viscous, or wet substance on: to smear bread with butter.
  3. to stain, spot, or make dirty with something oily, greasy, viscous, or wet.
  4. to sully, vilify, or soil (a reputation, good name, etc.).
  5. to smudge or blur, as by rubbing: The signature was smeared.
  6. Slang. to defeat decisively; overwhelm: They smeared the home team.
  1. an oily, greasy, viscous, or wet substance, especially a dab of such a substance.
  2. a stain, spot, or mark made by such a substance.
  3. a smudge.
  4. something smeared or to be smeared on a thing, as a glaze for pottery.
  5. a small quantity of something spread thinly on a slide for microscopic examination.
  6. vilification: a smear by a cheap gossip columnist.

Origin of smear

before 900; (v.) Middle English smeren, smirien to rub with fat, anoint, Old English smirian, smerian, smerwan; cognate with Dutch smeren, German schmieren, Old Norse smyrja, smyrwa; (noun) in current senses derivative of the v.; compare obsolete smear fat, grease, ointment, Middle English smere, Old English smeoru, cognate with Dutch smear, German Schmer, Old Norse smjǫr grease, Greek smýris rubbing powder; see emery
Related formssmear·er, nounun·smeared, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for smeared

Contemporary Examples of smeared

Historical Examples of smeared

  • He was blacker than I was; all smeared with grease and stripped to his waist.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • His cap had gone, and his fiery red hair was smeared with mud.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • When you gave my daughter a fish, you gave it smeared all over with mud.

    Aino Folk-Tales

    Basil Hall Chamberlain

  • They concluded by licking the porringers, and were smeared with soup up to their eyes.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • Both were stained and smeared with grease; they were amply large.

    The Finding of Haldgren

    Charles Willard Diffin

British Dictionary definitions for smeared


verb (mainly tr)
  1. to bedaub or cover with oil, grease, etc
  2. to rub over or apply thickly
  3. to rub so as to produce a smudge
  4. to slander
  5. US slang to defeat completely
  6. (intr) to be or become smeared or dirtied
  1. a dirty mark or smudge
    1. a slanderous attack
    2. (as modifier)smear tactics
  2. a preparation of blood, secretions, etc, smeared onto a glass slide for examination under a microscope
Derived Formssmearer, noun

Word Origin for smear

Old English smeoru (n); related to Old Norse smjör fat, Old High German smero, Greek muron ointment
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 smeared



Old English smerian, smierwan "to anoint or rub with grease, oil, etc.," from Proto-Germanic *smerwjan "to spread grease on" (cf. Old Norse smyrja "to anoint, rub with ointment," Danish smøre, Swedish smörja, Dutch smeren, Old High German smirwen "apply salve, smear," German schmieren "to smear;" Old Norse smör "butter"), from PIE *smeru- "grease" (cf. Greek myron "unguent, balsam," Old Irish smi(u)r "marrow," Old English smeoru "fat, grease, ointment, tallow, lard, suet," Lithuanian smarsas "fat").

Figurative sense of "assault a public reputation with unsubstantiated charges" is from 1879. Related: Smeared; smearing. Smear-word, one used regardless of its literal meaning but invested with invective, is from 1938.



"mark or stain left by smearing," 1610s, from smear (v.). Sense of "small quantity prepared for microscopic examination" is from 1903. Meaning "a quantity of cream cheese, etc., smeared on a bagel" is by 1999, from Yiddish shmir. The earliest noun sense in English is "fat, grease, ointment" (c.1200), from Old English had smeoru "fat, grease," cognate with Middle Dutch smere, Dutch smeer, German Schmer "grease, fat" (Yiddish schmir), Danish smør, Swedish smör "butter."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

smeared in Medicine


  1. A sample, as of blood or bacterial cells, spread thinly on a slide and usually stained for microscopic examination or applied to the surface of a culture medium.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.