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[blem-ish] /ˈblɛm ɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to destroy or diminish the perfection of:
The book is blemished by those long, ineffective descriptions.
a mark that detracts from appearance, as a pimple or a scar.
a defect or flaw; stain; blight:
a blemish on his record.
Origin of blemish
1275-1325; Middle English (v.) < Anglo-French, Middle French blemiss-, long stem of ble(s)mir to make livid, perhaps < Old Low Franconian *blesmjan; see blaze2
Related forms
blemisher, noun
unblemished, adjective
unblemishing, adjective
1. stain, sully, spot, tarnish, taint; injure, mar, damage, impair, deface. 3. blot, spot, speck, taint. See defect.
1. purify, repair. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for blemish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Had he not possessed this blemish, Nelligan would have deemed him nearly faultless.

  • Was it not to preserve his family name without a spot or blemish?

    The Son of Monte Christo Jules Lermina
  • This blemish is lacking in "The Farewell of Hiawatha," which is written for men's voices.

  • Whether it is sound of all injury and disease, and free of blemish.

    The Apple-Tree L. H. Bailey
  • Our world with its pigs doesn't fit in with their world of "blemish in the sacrifice."

    Stories and Pictures Isaac Loeb Peretz
  • Freedom from blemish: All specimens should be free from blemishes of all kinds.

    The Apple-Tree L. H. Bailey
  • Then, "Will you try to visualize your mother without the blemish at her temple?"

    The Ambassador Samuel Kimball Merwin
  • That is the one blemish, and we will exact the price of it—you and I—to the ultimate sou.

  • Mr. Darcy, who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish, and who probably never looked at you in his life!

    Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
British Dictionary definitions for blemish


a defect; flaw; stain
(transitive) to flaw the perfection of; spoil; tarnish
Word Origin
C14: from Old French blemir to make pale, probably of Germanic origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for blemish

early 14c., "to hurt, damage," from Old French blemiss- "to turn pale," extended stem of blemir, blesmir "to make pale; stain, discolor," also "to injure" (13c., Modern French blêmir), probably from Frankish *blesmjan "to cause to turn pale," or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *blas "shining, white," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)).

The order of appearance of senses in Middle English is "hurt, damage;" "impair morally, sully" (late 14c.); "mar, spoil, injure" (early 15c.); "to mar the beauty or soundness of" (mid-15c.). Related: Blemished; blemishing.


1520s, from blemish (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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blemish in Medicine

blemish blem·ish (blěm'ĭsh)
A small circumscribed alteration of the skin considered to be unesthetic but insignificant.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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blemish in the Bible

imperfection or bodily deformity excluding men from the priesthood, and rendering animals unfit to be offered in sacrifice (Lev. 21:17-23; 22:19-25). The Christian church, as justified in Christ, is "without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). Christ offered himself a sacrifice "without blemish," acceptable to God (1 Pet. 1:19).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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