|60 : aspersion
||[Sep. 5th, 2004|03:51 pm]
Word Of The Day
aspersion (n) \uh-SPER-zhun\|
1 : a sprinkling with water especially in religious ceremonies
2 *a : a false or misleading charge meant to harm someone's reputation b : the act of making such a charge : defamation
"I defy all the world to cast a just aspersion on my character: nay, the most scandalous tongues have never dared censure my reputation." (Henry Fielding, Tom Jones)
"No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall / To make this contract grow." In this line from Shakespeare's The Tempest, "aspersion" literally refers to a sprinkling of rain, but figuratively means "blessing." Shakespeare's use is true to the heritage of the term. "Aspersion" comes from the Latin word "aspersus," itself a derivative of the verb "aspergere," which means "to sprinkle" or "to scatter." When "aspersion" first appeared in English in the 16th century, it referred to the type of sprinklings (for instance, of holy water) that occur in religious ceremonies. But English speakers noted that splatterings can soil and stain, and by 1596 "aspersion" was also being used for reports that stain or tarnish a reputation.