\ 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 For a contrasting look, sand and stain existing shelves or cut your own planks. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Aug. 2022 Dye from other garments can stain or lend a dingy appearance to white clothes. Jolie Kerr, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 July 2022 Anton’s Law has ushered in uncertain times for Maryland officers concerned about whether complaints or missteps could stain their reputations, and for departments navigating the new legal requirements. Steve Thompson, Washington Post, 26 Aug. 2022 As Rutledge read a book in which Buechner recounted the sudden loss of his father, he was stunned to see his tears stain the pages. John Blake, CNN, 21 Aug. 2022 One user shared a suggestion before applying: wear gloves when using, as this gloss can stain your skin. Dori Price, Good Housekeeping, 15 Aug. 2022 No disrespect to the plastic quart containers ubiquitous in restaurant kitchens, but glass food storage containers won’t stain, can go straight into the oven or microwave, and are dishwasher-safe. Mackenzie Chung Fegan, Bon Appétit, 13 July 2022 Fresh sweat stains, which will appear as light yellow patches that stain the underarm of shirts, should be pretreated with an enzymatic formula like Krud Kutter Sports Stain Remover or Zout prior to laundering. Jolie Kerr, Better Homes & Gardens, 5 July 2022 Dog urine can also wreak havoc on hardscapes such as decks and garden paths, so, if possible, choose nonporous materials that won’t stain or absorb liquids and odors. Washington Post, 4 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In addition, the bag itself is machine washable and created with a stain and odor-resistant coating to keep it fresh and easy to clean. Rachel Dube, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Sep. 2022 From room sprays and bug shields to laundry soap and a stain-remover spray, Root and Splendor has a mission of providing products safe for people and the environment. Roxana Becerril, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Sep. 2022 This stain remover spray only needs to sit for 10 minutes to work and is odorless. Jodhaira Rodriguez, Good Housekeeping, 21 Sep. 2022 An ugly stain of bigotry in Oscars history eventually led to a celebration of Indigenous culture, hosted at the symbolic heart of the motion picture industry, nearly half a century later. Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Sep. 2022 Look for products that haven’t been pretreated to resist stains and skip optional stain-repellant treatment on new carpets and furniture. Michael Hawthorne, Chicago Tribune, 10 Sep. 2022 But also, remixing the past with refinement as in a flight jacket made from a performance wool usually used for suiting or a pale suede vest that remains taut (and stain-free!) for decades. Alexander Freeling, Robb Report, 31 Aug. 2022 Sand the edges and corners, and apply a coat of natural wood stain and sealer; let dry. Savanna Bous, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Sep. 2022 Once the wood is smooth and clean, use synthetic paint brushes to apply two coats of stain for a uniform, polished look. Daniel Bortz, Washington Post, 30 June 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

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 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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