Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To spread false or damaging charges or insinuations against. See Synonyms at malign.
  • transitive v. To sprinkle, especially with holy water.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To sprinkle or scatter (liquid or dust).
  • v. To falsely or maliciously charge another.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To sprinkle, as water or dust, upon anybody or anything, or to besprinkle any one with a liquid or with dust.
  • transitive v. To bespatter with foul reports or false and injurious charges; to tarnish in point of reputation or good name; to slander or calumniate

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To besprinkle; scatter over.
  • To bespatter with foul reports or false and injurious charges; tarnish in point of reputation or good name; slander; calumniate.
  • Synonyms Asperse, Defame, Calumniate, Slander, Malign, Traduce, Libel, Vilify, decry, depreciate, disparage, slur, run down, lampoon, blacken. These words are all descriptive of attempts to injure reputation by false statements. They all apply primarily and chiefly to persons. There is often little or no difference between them. Asperse is, literally, to bespatter, as with mud or dirt; it sometimes implies injury to reputation by indirect insinuation. Defame is, literally, to lower the fame or repute of, to bring toward infamy, to make charges that are more open and weighty than aspersions. Calumniate, slander, and malign represent the most deliberate and deadly assaults upon reputation. The calumniator is most often the inventor of the falsehoods he circulates. The slanderer is less inventive and more secret, his work being generally behind the back of the injured person. The maligner is most mischievous, malicious, or malign in his motives. To traduce is to misrepresent, to show in an odious light. Libel and slander are the words most used in speaking of injury to reputation in its relation to the possible recovery of damages at law. To libel, therefore, often suggests the pecuniary loss by defamation; libel is strictly effected by publication, while slander is strictly by word of mouth. Vilify is, literally, to make one (seem) vile; it suggests a defamation of the coarser and more abusive sort. See decry.

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

  • v. charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone

Etymologies

Middle English, to besprinkle, from Latin aspergere, aspers- : ad-, ad- + spargere, to strew.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • So, after the first six trays full of wee folks had been sprinkled, one at a time, the Bishop decided to "asperse" them, that is, shake, from a mop or brush, the holy water, on a tray full of babies at one time.

    Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks

  • Douglas who must answer to this heavy charge, for when was there strife or bloodshed in Scotland, but there were foul tongues to asperse a Douglas or

    The Fair Maid of Perth

  • But what perplexed us most was to think who could be so base as to asperse the character of a family so harmless as ours, too humble to excite envy, and too inoffensive to create disgust.

    The Vicar of Wakefield

  • “Are you saying, Sir James, that a woman who plays an immoral part is not moral — that would asperse a great many excellent reputations.”

    The Silver Spoon

  • The thoughts of becoming a subject of raillery for coxcombs, and losing my money to boot, stung me to the quick; but I made a virtue of my indignation, and swore that no man should with impunity either asperse the character of Melinda, or turn my behaviour into ridicule.

    The Adventures of Roderick Random

  • This impertinent and malicious insinuation made some impression upon the bystanders, and furnished ample field for slander to asperse the morals of Trunnion, who was represented through the whole district as a monster of barbarity.

    The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle

  • Morgan, ascending first, and seeing my face almost covered with brains and blood, concluded I was no longer a man for this world; and, calling to Thompson with great emotion, bade him come up, and take his last farewell of his comrade and countryman, who was posted to a better place, where there were no Mackshanes nor Oakums to asperse and torment him.

    The Adventures of Roderick Random

  • Yet Caesar did not fail to asperse him upon her account also.

    The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans

  • She shrieks out, “How dare you asperse my reputation?”

    A Sportsman's Sketches

  • Hastily, before there could be brooding on the augury, the four horsemen, appointed to asperse the plain, galloped to its four corners with their bloody offerings.

    Funeral Games

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