Etymology
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befoul (v.)

"make foul, cover with filth," from Old English befylan; see be- + foul (v.). Related: Befouled; befouling.

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draggle (v.)

"to wet or befoul a garment by allowing it to drag along damp ground or mud," 1510s, frequentative of drag (v.); also see -el (3). This led to draggle-tail "sloppy woman, woman whose skirts are wet and draggled" (1590s). Related: Draggled; draggling.

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smirch (v.)

late 15c., smorchen, "to discolor, to make dirty" (also compare bismorched, mid-15c.), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps (OED) from Old French esmorcher "to torture," which is perhaps also "befoul, stain," from es- "out" (see ex-) + morcher "to bite," from Latin morsus, past participle of mordēre "to bite" (see mordant). The sense perhaps was influenced by smear. The figurative meaning "dishonor, disgrace, discredit" is attested from 1820.

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defile (v.)

c. 1400, "to desecrate, profane;" mid-15c., "to make foul or dirty," also "to rape, deflower," alteration of earlier defoulen, from Old French defouler "trample down, violate," also "ill-treat, dishonor," from de- "down" (see de-) + foler "to tread," from Latin fullo "person who cleans and thickens cloth by stamping on it" (see foil (v.1)).

The alteration (or re-formation) in English is from influence of Middle English filen (v.) "to render foul; make unclean or impure," literal and figurative, from Old English fylen (trans.), related to Old English fulian (intrans.) "to become foul, rot," from the source of foul (adj.). Compare befoul, which also had a parallel form befilen. Related: Defiled; defiling.

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