Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To mar the cleanness or luster of; soil or stain.
  • transitive v. To defile; taint.
  • n. Archaic Something that stains or spots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to soil or stain; to dirty
  • v. to damage or corrupt

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Soil; tarnish; stain.
  • intransitive v. To become soiled or tarnished.
  • transitive v. To soil; to dirty; to spot; to tarnish; to stain; to darken; -- used literally and figuratively.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To soil; stain; tarnish; defile.
  • Figuratively, to stain or tarnish morally.
  • To dim; darken.
  • To be or become soiled or tarnished.
  • n. Soil; tarnish; spot.

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

  • v. make dirty or spotty, as by exposure to air; also used metaphorically
  • v. place under suspicion or cast doubt upon
  • v. charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone
  • n. United States painter (born in England) of portraits and historical scenes (1783-1872)
  • n. French statesman (1560-1641)

Etymologies

Probably from French souiller, from Old French; see soil2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English sulien (also sulwen), from Old English sylian ("to sully, soil, pollute"), from Proto-Germanic *suliwōnan, *sulwōnan, *sulwijanan (“to sully, make dirty”), from Proto-Indo-European *sūl- (“thick liquid, muck”). Cognate with Old Saxon sulian ("to sully"), Middle Dutch soluwen ("to sully"), German sühlen ("to sully"), Danish søle ("to sully"), Swedish söla ("to sully"). Perhaps conflated partially with Old French souillier ("to soil";> French souiller), from the same Germanic source. Related also to Old English solian ("to soil, become defiled, make or become foul"). More at soil. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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