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90s Slang You Should Know


[tahr-ney-shuh n] /tɑrˈneɪ ʃən/ Older Use.
damnation; hell (used as a euphemism):
Where in tarnation is that boy?
Origin of tarnation
1775-85; blend of ’tarnal, dial. form of eternal and damnation Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tarnation
Historical Examples
  • Who in 'tarnation let a gal like that go out in a boat alone, and without airy oar?

    Ruth Fielding At College Alice B. Emerson
  • "What in tarnation set the beasts onto us," inquired Shorty wonderingly.

  • But what in tarnation the stakes are that she's after is more'n I know.

    The Fifth Ace Douglas Grant
  • "And he's tarnation sorry for himself too, you bet," added the Texan.

    Lone Pine R. B. (Richard Baxter) Townshend
  • "It's a tarnation lie, that's what it is," said the stranger vindictively.

    The Crimson Sweater Ralph Henry Barbour
  • What in tarnation has that got to do with stealing my chickens?

    Betty Gordon at Bramble Farm Alice B. Emerson
  • None at all, but I'd have been a tarnation sight more presentable if somebody had taken me in hand and licked me into shape.

    The Second String Nat Gould
  • And then the noise—I could not make such a tarnation outcry to save my life.

    Roughing it in the Bush Susanna Moodie
  • I is goin' where Scottie an' the Parson goes; but where in tarnation is ye goin', and what for?

    In Search of El Dorado Alexander MacDonald
  • Then, said the first speaker, what a tarnation fool he was, not to stop on shore.

    Cats W. Gordon Stables
British Dictionary definitions for tarnation


a euphemism for damnation
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 tarnation

1784, American English alteration of darnation (itself a euphemism for damnation), influenced by tarnal (1790), from phrase by the Eternal (God).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for tarnation




[1790+; a euphemistic alteration of damnation, apparently influenced by obsolete US slang tarnal damned, an alteration of eternal]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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