Definitions

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

  • transitive verb To mar the cleanness or luster of; soil or stain.
  • transitive verb To defile; taint.
  • noun Something that stains or spots.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

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

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

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

  • verb transitive to soil or stain; to dirty
  • verb transitive to damage or corrupt

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Probably from French souiller, from Old French; see soil.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

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