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  1. a person whose occupation it is to tan hides.

Origin of tanner1

before 1000; Middle English, Old English tannere. See tan1, -er1


  1. comparative of tan1.


  1. British Slang. a sixpenny piece.

Origin of tanner3

First recorded in 1805–15; origin uncertain


  1. Henry Os·sa·wa [os-uh-wuh] /ˈɒs ə wə/, 1859–1937, U.S. painter, in France after 1891.


verb (used with object), tanned, tan·ning.
  1. to convert (a hide) into leather, especially by soaking or steeping in a bath prepared from tanbark or synthetically.
  2. to make brown by exposure to ultraviolet rays, as of the sun.
  3. Informal. to thrash; spank.
verb (used without object), tanned, tan·ning.
  1. to become tanned.
  1. the brown color imparted to the skin by exposure to the sun or open air.
  2. yellowish brown; light brown.
  3. tanbark.
adjective, tan·ner, tan·nest.
  1. of the color of tan; yellowish-brown.
  2. used in or relating to tanning processes, materials, etc.
  1. tan someone's hide, Informal. to beat someone soundly: She threatened to tan our hides if she found us on her property again.

Origin of tan1

before 1000; 1920–25 for def 2; Middle English tannen to make hide into leather, late Old English *tannian (in past participle getanned; cf. tanner1) < Medieval Latin tannāre, derivative of tannum oak bark, tanbark < Germanic; compare Old High German tanna oak, fir, akin to Dutch den fir
Related formstan·na·ble, adjectiveun·tanned, adjectivewell-tanned, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tanner

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for tanner


  1. a person who tans skins and hides


  1. British (formerly) an informal word for sixpence

Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin


  1. the brown colour produced by the skin after intensive exposure to ultraviolet rays, esp those of the sun
  2. a light or moderate yellowish-brown colour
  3. short for tanbark
verb tans, tanning or tanned
  1. to go brown or cause to go brown after exposure to ultraviolet raysshe tans easily
  2. to convert (a skin or hide) into leather by treating it with a tanning agent, such as vegetable tannins, chromium salts, fish oils, or formaldehyde
  3. (tr) slang to beat or flog
adjective tanner or tannest
  1. of the colour tantan gloves
  2. used in or relating to tanning
Derived Formstannable, adjectivetannish, adjective

Word Origin

Old English tannian (unattested as infinitive, attested as getanned, past participle), from Medieval Latin tannāre, from tannum tanbark, perhaps of Celtic origin; compare Irish tana thin


abbreviation for
  1. tangent (sense 2)
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

Word Origin and History for tanner


"sixpence," slang word first recorded 1811, of unknown origin. J.C. Hotten, lexicographer of Victorian slang, thinks it may be from tanner and skin, rhyming slang for "thin," presumably in reference to the smallness of the coin. Not to be confused with tenner, slang for "ten pound note," which dates from 1861.



late Old English tannian "to convert hide into leather" (by steeping it in tannin), from Medieval Latin tannare "tan, dye, a tawny color" (c.900), from tannum "crushed oak bark," used in tanning leather, probably from a Celtic source (e.g. Breton tann "oak tree"). The meaning "make brown by exposure to the sun" first recorded 1520s. To tan (someone's) hide in the figurative sense is from 1660s. Related: Tanned; tanning.



"bronze color imparted to skin by exposure to sun," 1749, see tan (v.). As a simple name for a brownish color, in any context, it is recorded from 1888. The adjective tan "of the color of tanned leather" is recorded from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tanner in Science


  1. Abbreviation of tangent
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.