• synonyms


[noun koun-ter-steyn; verb koun-ter-steyn]Histology
  1. a second stain of a different color applied to a microscopic specimen and used to color and contrast those parts not retaining the first stain.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to treat (a microscopic specimen) with a counterstain.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become counterstained; take a counterstain.
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Origin of counterstain

First recorded in 1890–95; counter- + stain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for counterstain

Historical Examples of counterstain

  • Counterstain in methylene blue, aqueous solution thirty seconds.

    The Elements of Bacteriological Technique

    John William Henry Eyre

  • Counterstain very lightly with aqueous solution of Neutral Red.

  • Counterstain with Kuehne's carbolic methylene-blue for one or two minutes.

British Dictionary definitions for counterstain


verb microscopy
  1. to apply two or more stains in sequence to (a specimen to be examined), each of which colours a different tissue
  2. (tr; usually passive) to apply (one of a series of stains) to a specimen to be examinedhaematoxylin is counterstained with eosin
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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

counterstain in Medicine


  1. A stain of a contrasting color used to color the components in a microscopic specimen that are not made visible by the principal stain.
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Related formscounter•stain′ v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.