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See more synonyms for smudge on Thesaurus.com
  1. a dirty mark or smear.
  2. a smeary state.
  3. a stifling smoke.
  4. a smoky fire, especially one made for driving away mosquitoes or safeguarding fruit trees from frost.
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verb (used with object), smudged, smudg·ing.
  1. to mark with dirty streaks or smears.
  2. to fill with smudge, as to drive away insects or protect fruit trees from frost.
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verb (used without object), smudged, smudg·ing.
  1. to form a smudge on something.
  2. to become smudged: White shoes smudge easily.
  3. to smolder or smoke; emit smoke, as a smudge pot.
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Origin of smudge

1400–50; late Middle English smogen (v.) < ?
Related formssmudg·ed·ly, adverbsmudge·less, adjectiveun·smudged, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for smudge

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Such is the story of the hole which you have marked, and of the smudge upon the wood.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Ahead, he could see the smudge of the Black Fleet's smoke on the horizon.

    Raiders Invisible

    Desmond Winter Hall

  • And to-day "the smudge" has grown more than ever ineffective.

    Women's Wild Oats

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • "Come to council," I sent up, while they helped to keep the smudge thick.

  • “What a shame,” he said, as it fell on his letter, and made a smudge.

    Eric, or Little by Little

    Frederic W. Farrar

British Dictionary definitions for smudge


  1. to smear, blur, or soil or cause to do so
  2. (tr) mainly US and Canadian to fill (an area) with smoke in order to drive insects away or guard against frost
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  1. a smear or dirty mark
  2. a blurred form or areathat smudge in the distance is a quarry
  3. mainly US and Canadian a smoky fire for driving insects away or protecting fruit trees or plants from frost
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Derived Formssmudgeless, adjectivesmudgily or smudgedly, adverb

Word Origin

C15: of uncertain 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 smudge


early 15c., smogen "to soil, stain, blacken," of obscure origin. Related: Smudged; smudging. Meaning "make a smoky fire" is from 1860, hence smudge-pot (1903). The noun meaning "a stain, spot, smear" is first attested 1768, from the verb.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper