- to convert (a hide) into leather, especially by soaking or steeping in a bath prepared from tanbark or synthetically.
- to make brown by exposure to ultraviolet rays, as of the sun.
- Informal. to thrash; spank.
- to become tanned.
- the brown color imparted to the skin by exposure to the sun or open air.
- yellowish brown; light brown.
- of the color of tan; yellowish-brown.
- used in or relating to tanning processes, materials, etc.
- 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
- the brown colour produced by the skin after intensive exposure to ultraviolet rays, esp those of the sun
- a light or moderate yellowish-brown colour
- short for tanbark
- to go brown or cause to go brown after exposure to ultraviolet raysshe tans easily
- 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
- (tr) slang to beat or flog
- of the colour tantan gloves
- used in or relating to tanning
Word Origin for tan
- tangent (sense 2)
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.
- Abbreviation of tangent
tan someone's hide
Also, have someone's hide. Spank or beat someone, as in Dad said he'd tan Billy's hide if he caught him smoking, or I'll have your hide if you take something without paying for it. This term uses hide in the sense of “skin.” The allusion in the first expression is to a spanking that will change one's skin just as chemicals tan animal hide (convert it into leather). [Second half of 1600s]