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Etymology 1[edit]

Attested since the 15th Century CE; possibly from Old French esmorcher (to torture), from Latin morsus (bitten).


smirch (countable and uncountable, plural smirches)

  1. Dirt, or a stain.
    • 1998, Michael Foss, People of the First Crusade, page 6, →ISBN.
      Too often, in the years between 800 and 1050, the everyday sun declined through the smirch of flame and smoke of a monastery or town robbed and burnt.
  2. (of a reputation) Stain.
    • 2008, W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, page 33, →ISBN.
      there were some business transactions which savored of dangerous speculation, if not dishonesty; and around it all lay the smirch of the Freedmen's Bank.


smirch (third-person singular simple present smirches, present participle smirching, simple past and past participle smirched)

  1. To dirty; to make dirty.
    • 1600, William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act I Scene III, lines 101-04
      CELIA. 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.
Derived terms[edit]


  • smirch” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018.

Etymology 2[edit]

Meld of smear and chirp


smirch (plural smirches)

  1. A chirp of radiation power from an astronomical body that has a smeared appearance on its plot in the time-frequency plane (usually associated with massive bodies orbiting supermassive black holes)
    • 2003, B. S. Sathyaprakash, BF Schutz, "Templates for stellar mass black holes falling into supermassive black holes", Classical and Quantum Gravity, volume 20, no. 10
      The strain h(t) produced by a smirch in LISA is given by h(t) = −-A(t)cos[(t) + φ(t)]
    • 2005, John M. T. Thompson, Advances in Astronomy: From the Big Bang to the Solar System, page 133, →ISBN.
      By observing a smirch, LISA offers a unique opportunity to directly map the spacetime geometry around the central object and test whether or not this structure is in accordance with the expectations of general realtivity.