pa·​ti·​na pə-ˈtē-nə How to pronounce patina (audio) ˈpa-tə-nə How to pronounce patina (audio)
plural patinas pə-ˈtē-nəz How to pronounce patina (audio)
or patinae pə-ˈtē-ˌnē How to pronounce patina (audio)
: 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
: a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use
the beautiful patina of this antique table
: 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
: a superficial covering or exterior
The toast was spread with a patina of butter.

Did you know?

When Italians began using patina in the 17th century to refer to the green film that forms on the surface of copper, they were drawing on Latin, in which patina 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 20th century, they'd expanded the word's application to surface appearances of things that have grown more beautiful with age or use—think of an old wooden desk or a tarnished silver goblet. Use of the word to refer to thin layers both literal and figurative ("a patina of grime," "a patina of respectability") followed soon after.

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 Sonically, the track hews close to Aldean’s polished country-rock sound, though Morgan’s vocal brings a patina that leans toward tender more than swagger. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 9 Oct. 2023 The black patina and copper finish is sure to command attention with its matte texture and subtle veins of teal woven throughout. Maria Conti, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Sep. 2023 According to the brand, the leather will develop a natural patina over time that’s unique to their use. Moriah Mason, Southern Living, 31 Oct. 2023 The fence is made from the same cedar wood as the pergola and will develop a silvery patina over time. Melissa Ozawa, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 Aug. 2023 Le Creuset San Francisco Salad Plates Set of 4 $64 $32 Le Creuset is partly famous for its distinctive patina, an almost ombre-style coloring on its dishes that elevates any tablescape. Grace Smith, Southern Living, 2 Aug. 2023 And, if an elegant home that glows with the patina of time is also your idea of the perfect beach house, the old Richards residence, now known as Crown Manor, can be yours for the price of $40 million. Mark David, Robb Report, 10 Oct. 2023 Limewash, a breathable and porous coating, adds texture and patina to brick, while whitewash is a slightly more opaque option. Sharon Greenthal, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Aug. 2023 The high-carbon steel takes a wicked edge and ages with a perfect patina. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, 5 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'patina.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Italian, from Latin, shallow dish — more at paten

First Known Use

1748, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of patina was in 1748


Dictionary Entries Near patina

Cite this Entry

“Patina.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on patina

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