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

  • transitive v. To soil, stain, or dirty with or as if with a smearing agent: "their tough, hostile faces, smirched by the grime and rust” ( Henry Roth).
  • transitive v. To dishonor; defame.
  • n. Something, such as a blot, smear, or stain, that smirches.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To dirty; to make dirty.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A smutch; a dirty stain.
  • transitive v. To smear with something which stains, or makes dirty; to smutch; to begrime; to soil; to sully.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To stain; smear; soil; smutch; besmirch.
  • Figuratively, to degrade; reduce in honor, dignity, fame, repute, or the like: as, to smirch one's own or another's reputation.
  • n. A soiling mark or smear; a darkening stain; a smutch.

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

  • v. smear so as to make dirty or stained
  • n. a blemish made by dirt
  • v. charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone
  • n. an act that brings discredit to the person who does it


Middle English smorchen.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Attested since the 15th Century CE; possibly from Old French esmorcher ("to torture"), from Latin morsus ("bitten"). (Wiktionary)



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  • As You Like It 1.3.105-106:

    I'll put myself in poor and mean attire,
    And with a kind of umber smirch my face.
    The like do you, so shall we pass along,
    And never stir assailants.

    December 17, 2008