Besmirch

besmirch means exactly what you think it means. Who would have thought that beschmieren entered the English language?

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3 Responses to “Besmirch”


  • I guess, it is not unusual to have words of German origin in the English language. A lot of them, esp. in the US, entered the language through Yiddish. I found two nice introductory lists, both words of Yiddish origin and German expressions. But I couldn’t figure out to what besmirch belonged, though.

  • I just wondered about the selection of words that was imported from German. Thanks for the lists! Here’s the paragraph about reasons from Wikipedia:

    German words have been incorporated to English usage for many reasons; common cultural artefacts, especially foods, have spread to English-speaking nations and often are identified either by their original German names or by German-sounding English names. The history of academic excellence of the German-speaking nations in science, scholarship, and classical music has led to the academic adoption of much German for use in English context; discussion of German history and culture requires knowing German words. Lastly, some German words are used simply to a fictionalise an English narrative passage, implying that the subject expressed is in German, i.e. using Frau, Reich, et cetera, although sometimes usage of German words holds no German implication, as in doppelgänger or angst.

    Most surprising examples imho are Pumpernickel, Fahrvergnügen (seen in a Volkswagen ad), Gesundheit (used instead of bless you in Michigan), Kaffeeklatsch, Wanderlust (something specifically German?), Lumpenproletariat, Witzelsucht, Heiligenschein and of course Schmutz.

  • Isn’t wanderlust also the title of a song? Anyhow, if I recall it correctly recent tv ads for Volkwagen in the UK kept the German line “Vorsprung durch Technik” (= advantage/lead through technology), too. Unfortunately I cannot remember the reason 🙂

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