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) , ˈpa-​tə-​nəz \ or patinae\ pə-​ˈtē-​ˌnē How to pronounce patina (audio) , -​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 An apartment like this one could entail more choices than the space shuttle—from the shape and patina of each hinge and handle to the location of every window alarm. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, "The Art of Building the Impossible," 23 Nov. 2020 That includes the patina of professionalism that would otherwise be provided by the company’s resources and expertise. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "Americans Got Tired of Looking Bad on Zoom," 19 Nov. 2020 But much of the appeal of TikTok resides in its patina of transgression. Elizabeth C. Tippett, The Conversation, "How TikTok is upending workplace social media policies – and giving us rebel nurses and dancing cops," 3 Dec. 2020 But much of the appeal of TikTok resides in its patina of transgression. The Conversation, oregonlive, "Salem nurse’s TikTok just latest to add tension between social media, workplace: The Conversation," 3 Dec. 2020 All along, the Kardashians have maintained a patina of relatability by broadcasting their banal sibling squabbles and romantic travails. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "How COVID-19 Dethroned the Kardashians," 17 Nov. 2020 Unfortunately, a few hysterical quotes from the expert class, who tend to share the opinion of the author, can suffice to gain this designation and the patina of objectivity that comes with it. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "The New York Times’ Misleading ‘Analysis’ of Benjamin Netanyahu," 11 Nov. 2020 Wedgwood drew inspiration from ancient, Renaissance and Baroque sculpture, especially old bronzes, whose glowing dark patina is evoked by the smooth sheen of his black basalt pieces. Barrymore Laurence Scherer, WSJ, "‘Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries’ Review: A Sumptuous Stoneware Collection," 11 Nov. 2020 While the conflict between parent and child had the patina of the familiar—teenager defiant, mother exasperated—its stakes have become a national concern. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Claudia Conway's TikToks Can't Save Democracy," 8 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for patina

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The first known use of patina was in 1748

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Last Updated

24 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Patina.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for patina


How to pronounce patina (audio) How to pronounce patina (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on patina

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for patina Encyclopedia article about patina

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