Smudge - spiritually purify

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Dec 14 04:50:35 UTC 2012

The OED says about the verb "smudge": 

Now dial. and N. Amer.

To make a smoky fire in (a tent, etc.); to fill with smoke from a smudge. Also, to cause (a fire) to smoke; to drive (mosquitoes, etc.) away by smoke. Now rare.

Citations go back to 1860.

The verb has another meaning: to spiritually purify as in to eliminate bad spirits, etc.

I see two citations in 1912 that refer to Native American ceremonies:

According to, the use of the term "smudge" is considered offensive by some Native Americans, but it is used by non-Indigenous New Age/Neopagan/Neoshamanism practitioners. Evidently sage is very common.

A citation is needed for this meaning.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society -

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