from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To spread or daub (a surface, for example) with a sticky, greasy, or dirty substance.
  • intransitive verb To apply by spreading or daubing.
  • intransitive verb To cause to be blurry or spread in unwanted places.
  • intransitive verb To stain or attempt to destroy the reputation of; vilify.
  • intransitive verb Slang To defeat utterly.
  • intransitive verb To spread easily in an undesired way.
  • noun A mark made by smearing; a spot or blot.
  • noun A substance to be spread on a surface.
  • noun Biology A sample, as of blood or bacterial cells, spread on a slide for microscopic examination or on the surface of a culture medium.
  • noun Vilification or slander.
  • noun A vilifying or slanderous remark.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Fat; grease; ointment.
  • noun A spot, blotch, or stain made by, or as if by, some unctuous substanee rubbed upon a surface.
  • noun In sugar manufacturing, the technical term for fermentation.
  • noun In pottery, a mixture of glazing materials in water, used for coating articles before they are placed in the saggars of the glazing-furnace.
  • To overspread with ointment; anoint.
  • To overspread thickly, irregularly, or in blotches with anything unctuous, viscous, or adhesive; besmear; daub.
  • To overspread too thickly, especially to the violation of good taste; paint, or otherwise adorn with something applied to a surface, in a way that is overdone or tawdry.
  • To soil; contaminate; pollute.
  • Synonyms To bedaub, begrime.
  • To tarnish, sully.
  • noun The soft, semi-fluid mud of calcium sulphate left in the generators when whiting and sulphuric acid were used to produce carbon-dioxid gas in the manufacture of aërated waters.
  • noun In bacteriology, a preparation of bacteria for microscopical examination made by smearing the organisms upon a slide or cover-glass. Also called spread. See culture.
  • To give a gloss to (pottery or stoneware) without glazing, as by putting a volatile flux or glazing preparation in the kiln or in the saggar with the ware. See smearglaze and smearing.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To overspread with anything unctuous, viscous, or adhesive; to daub.
  • transitive verb To soil in any way; to contaminate; to pollute; to stain morally.
  • transitive verb To smudge, blur, or render indistinct (writing, pictures, etc.).
  • transitive verb to vilify (a person); to damage (a person's reputation), especially falsely or by unfair innuendo, and with malicious intent.
  • noun A fat, oily substance; oinment.
  • noun Hence, a spot made by, or as by, an unctuous or adhesive substance; a blot or blotch; a daub; a stain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To spread (a substance, especially one that colours or is dirty) across a surface by rubbing.
  • verb transitive To have a substance smeared on (a surface).
  • verb transitive To damage someone's reputation by slandering, misrepresenting, or otherwise making false accusations about an individual, their statements, or their actions.
  • verb intransitive To become spread by smearing.
  • noun A mark made by smearing.
  • noun medicine A Pap smear.
  • noun A false attack.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb cover (a surface) by smearing (a substance) over it
  • verb make a smudge on; soil by smudging
  • noun a blemish made by dirt
  • verb charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone
  • verb stain by smearing or daubing with a dirty substance
  • noun slanderous defamation
  • noun an act that brings discredit to the person who does it
  • noun a thin tissue or blood sample spread on a glass slide and stained for cytologic examination and diagnosis under a microscope


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English smeren, to anoint, from Old English smerian.]


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  • My adjectival use: 'They often use a smear campaign to discredit a politician.'

    October 10, 2011

  • "In sugar manufacturing, the technical term for fermentation."

    --Cent. Dict.

    October 2, 2012