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besmirch (verb) to soil; to damage (reputation, prestige, etc.).
To spoil the good opinion people have of a person is to besmirch them. To cause a bad opinion among people about a person by spreading false reports about them or by talking badly about them is to besmirch them. You besmirch a person by appearing to expose their undesirable conduct on certain occasions. That is, you damage their reputation by slandering them. Yellow journals usually indulge in such activities by publishing false reports about persons in positions of power or fame.
- The royal family of Britain was besmirched a great deal in the Diana affair, with all kinds of slanderous reports spread by a section of the British press.
- The blackmailer, whose demand for a huge sum of money was rejected by Jonathan, is busy spreading all false reports about his conduct. Jonathan is worried that he is being besmirched.