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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 1559704551.
      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 1604502061.
      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, 2001–2017.

Etymology 2[edit]

Meld of smear and chirp

  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 1860945775.
      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.