verb (used with object)

to discolor or soil; spot or smudge with or as with soot, dust, dirt, etc.
to sully or tarnish (a person, reputation, character, etc.); disgrace; discredit.


a dirty mark or smear, as of soot, dust, dirt, etc.
a stain or blot, as on reputation.

Origin of smirch

First recorded in 1485–95; origin uncertain
Related formssmirch·less, adjectiveun·smirched, adjective

Synonyms for smirch

Antonyms for smirch

1. clean. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for smirch

Historical Examples of smirch

  • One could never detect a smirch or a grain of dust upon them.

    A Tramp Abroad, Complete

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • Every time he looked at me 'twas as if he saw a smirch on his escutcheon.

    The Rake's Progress

    Marjorie Bowen

  • Nothing is too fine for some devils to appropriate and––smirch.

    At the Crossroads

    Harriet T. Comstock

  • He can soil it, but except himself the whole world cannot smirch it.

    From the Easy Chair, series 3

    George William Curtis

  • "I thought the Smirch Society had staked out that claim," said Cam.


    Vance Simonds

British Dictionary definitions for smirch


verb (tr)

to dirty; soil


the act of smirching or state of being smirched
a smear or stain
Derived Formssmircher, noun

Word Origin for smirch

C15 smorchen, of unknown 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 smirch

late 15c., "to discolor, to make dirty," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old French esmorcher "to torture," perhaps also "befoul, stain," from es- "out" (see ex-) + morcher "to bite," from Latin morsus, past participle of mordere "to bite" (see mordant). Sense perhaps influenced by smear. Sense of "dishonor, disgrace, discredit" first attested 1820.


1680s, "a soiling mark or smear," from smirch (v.). Figurative use by 1862.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper