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A concentrated and prolonged effort to damage or ruin someone's or some group's reputation through the perpetuation of claims about their failures or faults, whether these are true, exaggerated, or falsified. Generally as a means of persuading a large number of people against him, her, or them, especially in a political election. Primarily heard in US. The local sheriff's slim lead heading into the election quickly evaporated after a vicious smear campaign began targeting his former substance abuse. I think we need to start a smear campaign to slow down the competitor's growth in the market, but no one can know that it's coming from us!
smear campaign (against someone)
a campaign aimed at damaging someone's reputation by making accusations and spreading rumors. The politician's opponents are engaging in a smear campaign against him. Jack started a smear campaign against Tom so that Tom wouldn't get the manager's job.
An attempt to ruin a reputation by slander or vilification, as in This press agent is well known for starting smear campaigns against her clients' major competitors . This phrase was first recorded in 1938 and uses smear in the sense of "an attempt to discredit" or "slander."