View synonyms for tarnish


[ tahr-nish ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to dull the luster of (a metallic surface), especially by oxidation; discolor.

    Antonyms: brighten

  2. to diminish or destroy the purity of; stain; sully:

    The scandal tarnished his reputation.

    Synonyms: soil, blemish, taint

verb (used without object)

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


  1. a tarnished coating.
  2. tarnished condition; discoloration; alteration of the luster of a metal.
  3. a stain or blemish.


/ ˈtɑːnɪʃ /


  1. to lose or cause to lose the shine, esp by exposure to air or moisture resulting in surface oxidation; discolour

    silver tarnishes quickly

  2. to stain or become stained; taint or spoil

    a fraud that tarnished his reputation


  1. a tarnished condition, surface, or film
Discover More

Derived Forms

  • ˈtarnishable, adjective
  • ˈtarnisher, noun
Discover More

Other Words From

  • tarnish·a·ble adjective
  • anti·tarnish adjective
  • anti·tarnish·ing adjective
  • non·tarnish·a·ble adjective
  • non·tarnished adjective
  • non·tarnish·ing adjective
  • un·tarnish·a·ble adjective
  • un·tarnished adjective
  • un·tarnish·ing adjective
Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of tarnish1

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; -ish 2
Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of tarnish1

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
Discover More

Example Sentences

You can also use the packets to mitigate tarnish or corrosion of metal jewelry, so stick some in your jewelry box.

He said Iran pays lobbyists in Washington to discredit reports by Iranian exiles and tarnish their image.

In response, Netanyahu said Olmert was trying to tarnish his administration ahead of parliamentary elections next week.

And using charges themselves false in order to tarnish his reputation?

Her traditional Muslim father said it would tarnish the family name for a young woman to live overseas alone.

Banville may tarnish his hero a bit, particularly by tormenting him with alcohol.

If he breathed, it was only that feeble respiration which could scarcely tarnish the surface of a mirror.

It is easy to understand that gold and silver thread of this pure description, unlike tinsel finery, it is not liable to tarnish.

The aluminum utensils will be always shining, for the material of which they are made will not tarnish.

Prizes are offered at Lyons for the best mode of manufacturing gold and silver thread that will not tarnish.

He has deposited it safely, where misfortune can not tarnish it, where malice can not blast it.





Tarn-et-Garonnetarnished plant bug