Cast Aspersions—Idiom, Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

There’s no physical casting involved, I promise. But the phrase casting aspersions does include throwing something, and it’s a lot like shade. Let’s take a look at the whole meaning behind this phrase and see how you can work it into everyday speech.

Cast Aspersions Meaning Explained

Cast Aspersions Idiom Meaning Origin

To cast aspersions doesn’t require a fishing rod or a thespian’s talent. Instead, it involves throwing around insinuations or nasty remarks about someone or something.

If you’re casting aspersions, you’re indirectly suggesting that someone’s character or work is questionable or just plain bad.

It’s like serving shade on a platter with a side of sass. But, as inviting as it might be to cast any aspersions at that annoying co-worker or the know-it-all in class, it’s not a recommended thing to do. It’s spreading rumors about someone simply because you don’t like them, making you a bully.

Origin of Casting Aspersions

If we trace the phrase back to its roots, cast aspersions has a Latin origin. The term aspersion derives from the Latin word aspersio, which simply means a sprinkling of something.

The meaning of aspersion changed when the term was adopted into the English language during the 17th century to take on a more figurative meaning. So, now we use it to describe the sprinkling or spreading of damaging rumors and accusations.

Henry Fielding first used the idea of casting aspersions in his book “Tom Jones,” published in 1749. The excerpt read, “I defy all the world to cast a just aspersion on my character… .”

So, when you cast an aspersion, you’re essentially sprinkling the reputation of another with doubt or distrust.

Synonyms for Cast Aspersions

Synonyms are a great way to mix things up and ensure you’re not being too repetitive in your writing. But cast aspersions might not be a phrase everyone understands, so pick something a little simpler.

  • Throw shade
  • Sling mud
  • Spread rumors
  • Speak ill of
  • Defame
  • Slander

Cast Aspersions Examples in a Sentence

Cast Aspersions Idiom Meaning Origin 1

Let’s put this shady phrase in action and see how it fits within the context of a full sentence.

  • I don’t mean to cast aspersions on Jake’s ability to do this job, but he seems to have trouble finishing tasks on time.
  • The leftist politician was known to cast aspersions about his opponents during his speeches, so it was hard to trust what he was saying.
  • The smear article seemed to cast an aspersion on the entire indie publishing industry.
  • The new electric company has been throwing shade and casting aspersions about its local competitor for weeks. 
  • I’m not casting any aspersions, but there are rumors about her husband’s involvement in the cheating scandal.
  • She didn’t want to cast aspersions on her teammate, but Jane couldn’t ignore the consistent mistakes in his legwork.
  • During the debate, Mike cast an aspersion about his rival for the whole school to hear, and now it doesn’t even matter if it’s true or not.
  • Despite the rumors, she refused to cast any aspersions until she had all the facts, which was the right thing to do.

He Who Casts the First Stone

Cast aspersions isn’t exactly a common phrase, but you might come across it from time to time, so it’s best to understand its meaning and how to use it. I hope my guide helped iron out any questions you had. Be sure to pop around our site and read some of my other tips on grammar and idioms.