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See more synonyms for tarnish on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to dull the luster of (a metallic surface), especially by oxidation; discolor.
  2. to diminish or destroy the purity of; stain; sully: The scandal tarnished his reputation.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to grow dull or discolored; lose luster.
  2. to become sullied.
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  1. a tarnished coating.
  2. tarnished condition; discoloration; alteration of the luster of a metal.
  3. a stain or blemish.
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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 formstar·nish·a·ble, adjectivean·ti·tar·nish, adjectivean·ti·tar·nish·ing, adjectivenon·tar·nish·a·ble, adjectivenon·tar·nished, adjectivenon·tar·nish·ing, adjectiveun·tar·nish·a·ble, adjectiveun·tar·nished, adjectiveun·tar·nish·ing, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for untarnished

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • There is something merciless in the purity of untarnished youth.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • It was not only untarnished by such knowledge as we brought with 166 us, it was radiant.

    Waiting for Daylight

    Henry Major Tomlinson

  • She was the very dawn of life herself, untarnished, unfatigued, unashamed.

    Margarita's Soul

    Ingraham Lovell

  • It is not dirty nor silly; it is nature's untarnished truth.

  • Ruth had sent him to her untarnished, and now, while in her keeping, he was drifting away!

    Sunlight Patch

    Credo Fitch Harris

British Dictionary definitions for untarnished


  1. (of silver, etc) not tarnished or discoloured
  2. not tainted or spoileduntarnished by graffiti
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  1. to lose or cause to lose the shine, esp by exposure to air or moisture resulting in surface oxidation; discoloursilver tarnishes quickly
  2. to stain or become stained; taint or spoila fraud that tarnished his reputation
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  1. a tarnished condition, surface, or film
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Derived Formstarnishable, adjectivetarnisher, noun

Word Origin

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 untarnished



1713, from tarnish (v.).

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1590s, from present participle stem of Middle French ternir "dull the luster or brightness of, make dim" (15c.), probably from Old French terne (adj.) "dull, dark," from a Germanic source cognate with Old High German tarnjan "to conceal, hide," Old English dyrnan "to hide, darken," from Proto-Germanic *darnjaz (see dern). Figurative sense is from 1690s. Related: Tarnished; tarnishing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper