pa·​ti·​na | \pə-ˈtē-nə, ˈpa-tə-nə \
plural patinas\ pə-​ˈtē-​nəz , ˈpa-​tə-​nəz \ or patinae\ pə-​ˈtē-​ˌnē , -​ˌnī, ˈpa-​tə-​ \

Definition of patina 

1a : a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color

b : a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use the beautiful patina of this antique table

2 : an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character the criminal has acquired a patina of respectability by his friendship with well-known businessmen

3 : a superficial covering or exterior The toast was spread with a patina of butter.

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Did You Know?

Italians began using "patina" in the 17th century to refer to the green film that is produced on the surface of copper. They borrowed the word from Latin, where it means "a shallow dish." (Presumably, the Italian meaning developed from the observation of such film forming on copper dishes.) By the mid-18th century, English speakers were also calling the green film "patina." And by the early 20th century, "patina" was being used in English for the gloss of polished metals, like silver, as well as wooden furniture - a meaning that led to its literary use for a surrounding aura, as demonstrated in this quote from Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm (1932): "The very atmosphere seemed covered with a rich patina of love."

Examples of patina in a Sentence

although the winery is brand-new, it has been constructed and decorated to give it a patina of old-world quaintness

Recent Examples on the Web

The Italian leather has brass snap hardware that will take on its own patina with use. The Editors, Outside Online, "Seven Steals at Huckberry’s Summer Sale," 12 July 2018 The rest of the car wears a heavy patina and a fair amount of corrosion, but the bodywork and glass are in good shape and the only real rust issue can be found on one of the B-pillars. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "1963 Chevrolet Corvette parked in a garage for 45 years could be worth a small fortune," 16 June 2018 Trump just denies and denies covering everything with a fake patina of wonderfulness and smarmy and excessive optimism to hide his con game. Matt Murray, WSJ, "The 10-Point.," 18 June 2018 Of course, others love the rustic look and embrace the imperfections as a rich patina that develops over time. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Why Some Homeowners Really, Really Hate Concrete Countertops," 24 May 2017 Industry dinners run long, and the fashion industry’s, patina of glamour notwithstanding, are no different. Matthew Schneier, New York Times, "Inside the CFDA Awards, With Issa Rae, Kim Kardashian West and Naomi Campbell," 5 June 2018 As Mueller has plunged deeper into his murky dealings with Russia, the president has increasingly abandoned the patina of innocence. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 The patient and attentive sales clerk praised the merits of a handsome one in a patina neither quite brass nor chrome for $185. New York Times, "Shopping Online for Home Decor?," 22 June 2018 This is the season when cars are coated in a dusty patina until their owners simply can't stand the dirty fingers that come from opening the doors. Anchorage Daily News, "Grit, dust, melting snow – and lots of sunshine: It’s springtime in Alaska," 11 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patina.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of patina

1748, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for patina

Italian, from Latin, shallow dish — more at paten

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for patina

The first known use of patina was in 1748

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More Definitions for patina



English Language Learners Definition of patina

: a thin usually green layer that forms naturally on the metals copper and bronze when they are exposed to the air for a long time

: a shiny or dark surface that forms naturally on something (such as wood or leather) that is used for a long time

: a thin layer

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More from Merriam-Webster on patina

See words that rhyme with patina

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for patina

Spanish Central: Translation of patina Encyclopedia article about patina

Comments on patina

What made you want to look up patina? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express warning or disapproval

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