\ ˈstān How to pronounce stain (audio) \
stained; staining; stains

Definition of stain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to suffuse with color
2 : discolor, soil
3a : taint sense 3 a conscience stained with guilt
b : to bring discredit on the scandal stained his reputation
4 : to color (something, such as wood, glass, or cloth) by processes affecting chemically or otherwise the material itself

intransitive verb

: to receive a stain



Definition of stain (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a soiled or discolored spot
b : a natural spot of color contrasting with the ground
2 : a taint of guilt : stigma
3 : a preparation (as of dye or pigment) used in staining: such as
a : a dye or pigment capable of penetrating the pores of wood
b : a dye or mixture of dyes used in microscopy to make visible minute and transparent structures, to differentiate tissue elements, or to produce specific chemical reactions

Other Words from stain


stainable \ ˈstā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce stain (audio) \ adjective
stainer \ ˈstā-​nər How to pronounce stain (audio) \ noun


stainproof \ ˈstān-​ˌprüf How to pronounce stain (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for stain

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of stain in a Sentence

Verb The red wine stained the carpet. He stained the wood a dark cherry color. The accusations stained his reputation. Noun There's a juice stain on the floor. She has a stain on her shirt. Will those grass stains wash out? See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In our tests, the bamboo was comfortable to cut on, was easy to clean and didn't stain. Nicole Papantoniou, Good Housekeeping, 25 Apr. 2022 These materials are the easiest to wipe clean and typically don't stain. Rebecca Carhart, Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2022 It's usually recommended that people avoid certain foods and beverages that could stain or discolor the veneers like coffee, tea, or red wine, the ADA says. Korin Miller,, 9 Dec. 2021 In the 1960s, Chicago city workers used a bright green dye to identify leaks in pipes, which would often stain their white coveralls, CNN reported in 2019. Scottie Andrew, CNN, 17 Mar. 2022 On rock walls, the accounts of Tuka-Deka hunts still stain the rock in vivid ocher. Christopher Solomon, Travel + Leisure, 20 Mar. 2022 And after washing my hands, the residue doesn't stain my baby pink towels either for that matter—a major win in my book. Talia Abbas, Glamour, 15 Mar. 2022 Berries such as blackberries stain everything in deep, rich purple. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2022 That is when the actions of countries stain the name of a team. New York Times, 4 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Continue dabbing and blotting until the stain is gone. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, 9 May 2022 Though more rustic in nature, the beams’ color aligns with the dark stain of the custom, quarter-sawn white oak cabinetry that Modern Heritage designed and crafted in its Scarborough, Maine, workshop. Marni Elyse Katz, House Beautiful, 5 May 2022 Blue colours are the stain of nucleus, and HTLV-1 is integrated into the genome in the nucleus., 5 May 2022 In a classic of the lobbying genre, progressive law professor Noah Feldman devoted a long Bloomberg essay last August to telling Justice Brett Kavanaugh that saving Roe is his best chance to remove the stain of his confirmation fight. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 3 May 2022 Those who remained in the U.S. would have the ability to reapply for visas without the stain of the case clouding their chances. NBC News, 27 Mar. 2022 As the holdings have changed hands, the stain of illegality has grown fainter and fainter. Alexander Sammon, The New Republic, 16 Feb. 2022 But the sources say that a key point of disagreement is over the length of community service Netanyahu would receive for pleading guilty to the remaining charges, and whether that sentence carries with it the stain of moral turpitude. Hadas Gold, Andrew Carey And Amir Tal, CNN, 18 Jan. 2022 The Hawks’ eventual settlement with Beach last month couldn’t whitewash the stain of that scandal or mitigate the fallout, which included Stan Bowman’s ouster as president of hockey operations and general manager. Phil Thompson,, 1 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of stain


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1557, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for stain


Middle English steynen, partly from Anglo-French desteindre to take away the color from & partly of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse steina to paint — more at distain

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The first known use of stain was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for stain


\ ˈstān How to pronounce stain (audio) \
stained; staining

Kids Definition of stain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to soil or discolor especially in spots
2 : to use something (as a dye) to change the color of I spent the weekend staining the deck.
3 : corrupt entry 1 sense 1 Her conscience was stained.
4 : disgrace entry 1 The scandal stained his reputation.



Kids Definition of stain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : spot entry 1 sense 2, discoloration Will this stain wash out?
2 : a mark of guilt or disgrace : stigma
3 : something (as a dye) used in staining

Other Words from stain

stainless \ -​ləs \ adjective


transitive verb
\ ˈstān How to pronounce stain (audio) \

Medical Definition of stain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to cause discoloration of smoking stains teeth
2 : to color by processes affecting chemically or otherwise the material itself stain bacteria with a fluorescent dye

intransitive verb

: to receive a stain



Medical Definition of stain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a discolored spot or area (as on the skin or teeth) — see port-wine stain
2 : a preparation (as of dye or pigment) used in staining something especially : a dye or mixture of dyes used in microscopy to make minute and transparent structures visible, to differentiate tissue elements, or to produce specific chemical reactions

More from Merriam-Webster on stain

Nglish: Translation of stain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stain for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about stain


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