[ tahr-nish ]
/ ˈtɑr nɪʃ /

verb (used with object)

to dull the luster of (a metallic surface), especially by oxidation; discolor.
to diminish or destroy the purity of; stain; sully: The scandal tarnished his reputation.

verb (used without object)

to grow dull or discolored; lose luster.
to become sullied.


Origin of tarnish

1590–1600; <Middle French terniss-, long stem of ternir to dull, deaden, derivative of terne dull, wan <Germanic; compare Old High German tarni, cognate with Old Saxon derni,Old English dierne hidden, obscure; see -ish2


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for tarnish

British Dictionary definitions for tarnish

/ (ˈtɑːnɪʃ) /


to lose or cause to lose the shine, esp by exposure to air or moisture resulting in surface oxidation; discoloursilver tarnishes quickly
to stain or become stained; taint or spoila fraud that tarnished his reputation


a tarnished condition, surface, or film

Derived forms of tarnish

tarnishable, adjectivetarnisher, noun

Word Origin for tarnish

C16: from Old French ternir to make dull, from terne lustreless, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German tarnen to conceal, Old English dierne hidden
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