verb (used with object), smudged, smudg·ing.

to mark with dirty streaks or smears.
to fill with smudge, as to drive away insects or protect fruit trees from frost.

verb (used without object), smudged, smudg·ing.

Origin of smudge

1400–50; late Middle English smogen (v.) < ?
Related formssmudg·ed·ly, adverbsmudge·less, adjectiveun·smudged, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for smudging

Contemporary Examples of smudging

  • I like taking that old Hollywood idea and putting rock and roll on top of it and messing it up and smudging it.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Evan Rachel Wood Grows Up

    Rachel Syme

    June 16, 2009

Historical Examples of smudging

  • 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



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



to smear, blur, or soil or cause to do so
(tr) mainly US and Canadian to fill (an area) with smoke in order to drive insects away or guard against frost


a smear or dirty mark
a blurred form or areathat smudge in the distance is a quarry
mainly US and Canadian a smoky fire for driving insects away or protecting fruit trees or plants from frost
Derived Formssmudgeless, adjectivesmudgily or smudgedly, adverb

Word Origin for smudge

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper