distain

[ dih-steyn ]
/ dɪˈsteɪn /

verb (used with object) Archaic.

to discolor; stain; sully.

QUIZZES

DON’T VACILLATE! VANQUISH THIS WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ!

It’d be a real faux pas to miss this quiz on the words from August 3–9, 2020!
Question 1 of 7
What does “vacillate” mean?

Origin of distain

1350–1400; Middle English desteignen<Anglo-French, Middle French desteign-, stem of desteindre, equivalent to des-dis-1 + teindre<Latin tingere to dye, tinge
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does distain mean?

Distain is a misspelling of disdain, but it’s also an archaic word that means to stain or discolor something.

Distain is archaic, meaning it was once in common use but is now used very rarely. You’re most likely to see distain as a misspelling of the word disdain (which can be pronounced exactly the same as distain). To disdain something is to despise it.

Example: “I distain white tablecloths,” said the red wine disdainfully.

Where does distain come from?

The first records of distain come from the 1300s, when it meant “to stain or dye something with a different color.” Distain comes from French, from the word desteindre, which is based on the prefix dis-, meaning “apart” or “away,” and the Latin word tingere, meaning “to dye or paint.” (This is also the source of the word tinge). Distain’s modern synonym, stain, may come from the same roots and may simply be a shortening of distain.

By the 1400s, distain was being used to describe metaphorical stains or defilement, such as to a person’s honor or a holy site. Distain was used in this way by Shakespeare (“The worthiness of praise distains his worth”). And it was used in this sense and others by big literary figures like Geoffrey Chaucer, Chrisopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and Robert Burns.

But its use declined by the 1900s, probably because it’s easier to say stain, which can also be used in both a literal and metaphorical sense.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for distain?

What are some words that share a root or word element with distain

What are some words distain may be commonly confused with?

How is distain used in real life?

Distain is considered an archaic word and the word stain has essentially replaced it. Distain often appears as a misspelling of the word disdain.

Try using distain!

Is distain used correctly in the following sentence?

By the war’s end, our armor and our souls had been distained by the filth of a dozen battles.

Example sentences from the Web for distain