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[steyn] /steɪn/
a discoloration produced by foreign matter having penetrated into or chemically reacted with a material; a spot not easily removed.
a natural spot or patch of color different from that of the basic color, as on the body of an animal.
a cause of reproach; stigma; blemish:
a stain on one's reputation.
coloration produced by a dye that penetrates a substance, as wood.
a dye made into a solution for coloring woods, textiles, etc.
a reagent or dye used in treating a specimen for microscopic examination.
verb (used with object)
to discolor with spots or streaks of foreign matter.
to bring reproach or dishonor upon; blemish.
to sully with guilt or infamy; corrupt.
to color or dye (wood, cloth, etc.) by any of various processes that change or react with the substance chemically.
to color with something that penetrates the substance.
to treat (a microscopic specimen) with some reagent or dye in order to color the whole or parts and so give distinctness, contrast of tissues, etc.
verb (used without object)
to produce a stain.
to become stained; take a stain:
This fabric stains easily.
Origin of stain
1350-1400; Middle English steynen < Old Norse steina to paint; in some senses aphetic form of distain
Related forms
stainable, adjective
stainability, stainableness, noun
stainably, adverb
stainer, noun
destainer, noun
nonstainable, adjective
nonstainer, noun
nonstaining, adjective
restain, verb
understain, noun
understain, verb (used with object)
well-stained, adjective
1, 3. mark, imperfection, blot. 3. taint. 7. spot, streak, soil, dirty. 8. sully, taint, tarnish, disgrace, dishonor, debase, defile, contaminate, pollute. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for staining
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A ghost of color was going up her throat, staining her cheeks.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • It gushed down his chin, staining the cleanness of his robe.

    Life Sentence James McConnell
  • staining methods may be classified according to the purpose to which they are adapted.

    Histology of the Blood Paul Ehrlich
  • This staining can only be limited by dilution, but not by the addition of opposed dyes.

    Histology of the Blood Paul Ehrlich
  • The directions for staining will be found on the can in which it is sold.

    Mission Furniture H. H. Windsor
  • There is much danger of staining the conscience in affairs like these.

    The Parables of Our Lord William Arnot
  • What should we have in mind when staining furniture for the home?

    Industrial Arts Design William H. Varnum
  • The fault can be remedied by staining the line to match the surface of the leather.

    The Decoration of Leather Georges de Rcy
  • There was another, crushed and faded, and staining the leaves with its purple blood.

    Rutledge Miriam Coles Harris
British Dictionary definitions for staining


verb (mainly transitive)
to mark or discolour with patches of something that dirties: the dress was stained with coffee
to dye with a penetrating dyestuff or pigment
to bring disgrace or shame on: to stain someone's honour
to colour (specimens) for microscopic study by treatment with a dye or similar reagent
(intransitive) to produce indelible marks or discoloration: does ink stain?
a spot, mark, or discoloration
a moral taint; blemish or slur
a dye or similar reagent, used to colour specimens for microscopic study
a solution or liquid used to penetrate the surface of a material, esp wood, and impart a rich colour without covering up the surface or grain
any dye that is made into a solution and used to colour textiles and hides
Derived Forms
stainable, adjective
stainability, noun
stainer, noun
Word Origin
C14 steynen (vb), shortened from disteynen to remove colour from, from Old French desteindre to discolour, from des-dis-1 + teindre, from Latin tingere to tinge
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for staining



late 14c., probably representing a merger of Old Norse steina "to paint" and a shortened form of Middle English disteynen "to discolor or stain," from Old French desteign-, stem of desteindre "to remove the color," from des- (from Latin dis- "remove;" see dis-) + Old French teindre "to dye," from Latin tingere (see tincture). Related: Stained; staining. Stained glass is attested from 1791.



1560s, from stain (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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staining in Medicine

staining n.

  1. The act of applying a stain.

  2. Modification of the color of the tooth or of the denture base to give a more realistic appearance.

stain (stān)

  1. A reagent or dye that is used for staining microscopic specimens.

  2. A procedure in which a dye or a combination of dyes and reagents is used to color the constituents of cells and tissues.

v. stained, stain·ing, stains
To treat specimens for the microscope with a reagent or dye that makes visible certain structures without affecting others.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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