• synonyms


  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 smudging

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • This blotting, this smudging, is very slight, but it exists; it is always there.

    John Caldigate

    Anthony Trollope

  • Windbreaks as often favor the frost as the vine, and smudging or heating the vineyards is too expensive to be practical.

  • Smudging is too expensive for the extensive system of peach-orcharding practiced in the East.

  • Hundreds of votive candles blaze and smoke in the grotto, smudging the whole with nasty soot.

    Winged Wheels in France

    Michael Myers Shoemaker

  • It was as though a hand had been passed over the picture, smudging the outlines and rendering the whole thing of dubious value.


    William McFee

British Dictionary definitions for smudging


  1. a traditional Native American method of using smoke from burning herbs to purify a space
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  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 smudging



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