Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
September 4th, 2016
Episode 637 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 4, 2016 is: asperse \uh-SPURSS\ verb 1 : sprinkle; especially : to sprinkle with holy water 2 : to attack with evil reports or false or injurious charges Examples: "Though my opponent's supporters have aspersed my character, I think my record speaks for itself," said the candidate. "[Andrew] Jackson, a short-tempered warrior who had killed a man in a duel for aspersing his wife, had to endure scurrilous attacks on his wife as a bigamist." — Sid Moody, The Associated Press, 21 June 1992 Did you know? You may be more familiar with the idea of "casting aspersions" than with aspersing, although they mean essentially the same thing; the word aspersion can mean "a sprinkling with water" or, more commonly, "a false or misleading charge meant to harm someone's reputation." Both asperse and aspersion are descendants of the Latin verb aspergere, meaning "to sprinkle." Asperse is the older word, dating to at least 1490; aspersion is known to have first appeared in print in English in the latter half of the 1500s.