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 patinas (audio) , ˈpa-​tə-​nəz \ or patinae\ pə-​ˈtē-​ˌnē How to pronounce patinae (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 According to a press release, the team hopes to remove the sculpture’s dark patina to restore a sense of three-dimensionality. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Visitors Can Watch the Restoration of Michelangelo’s ‘Bandini Pietà’," 27 Nov. 2019 Wigs and beards will come back to Custom Wig Company to be washed and cleaned and often have candy cane residue in them from eager tots sitting on Santa's lap, not to mention makeup from Santa’s iconic rosy cheeks or patina from his eyeglasses. Dahlia Ghabour, The Courier-Journal, "This Louisville company is hand-making the best 'Designer Santa Beards' in the world," 18 Dec. 2019 Soft country yellow is a great color to mimic age and patina. Chelsea Evers, Country Living, "16 Best Yellow Paint Colors That'll Look Gorgeous in Any Room," 21 Nov. 2019 What links them all is a materials-first approach that celebrates the existing elements of the space: Ceiling cracks are retained, plaster walls reveal their natural patina, and wooden doors are stripped back. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "These 6 European Apartments Are Basically Private Design Hotels," 23 Aug. 2019 The contemporary events have been polished to an antique patina and endowed with classical weight. Ron Charles Critic, Washington Post, "Mark Haddon’s ‘The Porpoise’ sounds like homework. It’s actually fantastic.," 11 June 2019 The wood has been left untreated so the structures continue to weather and form patinas; window frames and red cedar roofs blend into the shadows of the surrounding primary forest. Rebecca Misner, Condé Nast Traveler, "Island Hopping in French Polynesia," 15 Nov. 2019 The orchestra carried that comfortable patina into the opening of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. Matthew Guerrieri, Washington Post, "Melbourne Orchestra brings sense of several places to Kennedy Center," 17 Oct. 2019 Embracing the French penchant for patina, Ward spent months converting a 1920s era barn into a tasting room and recently transformed an 1850s farmhouse into lodging where guests sleep within sight of the orchards. Nancy Moreland,, "An Appalachian Eden for apples thrives in North Carolina’s Henderson County," 7 Oct. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of patina was in 1748

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Last Updated

7 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Patina.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on patina

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for patina

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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 insert between existing elements

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