[tahr-ney-shuh n]Older Use.
  1. damnation; hell (used as a euphemism): Where in tarnation is that boy?
  1. damned.

Origin of tarnation

1775–85; blend of ’tarnal, dial. form of eternal and damnation
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tarnation

Historical Examples of tarnation

  • How in tarnation did you come to git off that there train, hey?

  • "What in tarnation set the beasts onto us," inquired Shorty wonderingly.

  • Well, if you know me so tarnation well, tell me what's my name.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for tarnation


  1. 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

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