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.


Nearby words

  1. tarn,
  2. tarn-et-garonne,
  3. tarnal,
  4. tarnation,
  5. tarne,
  6. tarnished plant bug,
  7. tarnopol,
  8. tarnów,
  9. taro,
  10. taroc

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


Related forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for untarnishable

  • It was said to be untarnishable and unstainable even when used with the strongest acid foods, as well as non-rusting.

  • The manufacture of untarnishable gold for embroidery purposes seems beyond present day enterprise.

British Dictionary definitions for untarnishable



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 Formstarnishable, 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

Word Origin and History for untarnishable
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper