\ ˈtānt How to pronounce taint (audio) \
tainted; tainting; taints

Definition of taint

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to contaminate morally : corrupt scholarship tainted by envy
2 : to affect with putrefaction : spoil
3 : to touch or affect slightly with something bad persons tainted with prejudice

intransitive verb

1 : to become affected with putrefaction : spoil
2 obsolete : to become weak



Definition of taint (Entry 2 of 2)

: a contaminating mark or influence the taint of scandal

Other Words from taint


taintless \ ˈtānt-​ləs How to pronounce taint (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for taint

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for taint


contaminate, taint, pollute, defile mean to make impure or unclean. contaminate implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source. water contaminated by industrial wastes taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination. tainted meat a politician's tainted reputation pollute, sometimes interchangeable with contaminate, distinctively may imply that the process which begins with contamination is complete and that what was pure or clean has been made foul, poisoned, or filthy. the polluted waters of the river defile implies befouling of what could or should have been kept clean and pure or held sacred and commonly suggests violation or desecration. defile a hero's memory with slanderous innuendo

Examples of taint in a Sentence

Verb criticism of her sister's singing that was tainted by envy a tendency toward conceitedness taints that athlete's status as a role model Noun that rare political campaign that wasn't marred by the taint of false accusations
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Failure to comply with breast milk storage practices can taint the milk and affect a baby's health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stephanie Innes, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2022 Residuals are produced by burning coal in power plants and contain pollutants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic that can taint water supplies and air if not disposed of properly. Zayna Syed, The Arizona Republic, 10 Feb. 2022 The hybrids might taint the genes of nearby wolf packs. Boyce Upholt, Outside Online, 29 June 2021 This potency of the emotion is such that a single anecdote can taint an entire presidential campaign. New York Times, 27 Dec. 2021 California bars the corporate practice of medicine to prevent commercial influences, such as a drive for profits, to taint the practice of medicine. NBC News, 21 Dec. 2021 The government contends that public access to the documents would result in publicity that could taint the jury selection process and intimidate witnesses before the trial begins. Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2021 Some of those snobs will not taint their palates with products from Bolgheri, claiming that Italian wine made with French grapes lacks character and provenance. Mike Desimone, Robb Report, 12 Dec. 2021 The motion argues that such statements could taint the possible jury pool. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 26 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun It’s as though the building itself — home of empire — has been refitted as a clarifying device, with light as disinfectant for the taint of exploitation. Murray Whyte, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Apr. 2022 This was the case in 2020, when the majority of grapes weren’t even harvested due to widespread smoke taint. Jess Lander, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 Feb. 2022 But by the close of Premiere last week, the general consensus from wine industry people in attendance was that the 2020 wines were showing well, and didn’t have noticeable traces of smoke taint. Jess Lander, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Mar. 2022 But the protesters in Kensington said such an effort was crucial if Britain genuinely wanted to rid itself of the taint of dirty money. New York Times, 13 Mar. 2022 And Lee is not free from the taint of white supremacy. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 24 Nov. 2021 Buying land here is also a hedge against the destruction that wildfire and smoke taint can bring. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Mar. 2022 The fact that the 2021 harvest was not threatened by fires or smoke taint was also a boon. Liz Thach, Forbes, 19 Jan. 2022 Once the flames are extinguished, the major issue for the wine industry will be smoke taint. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, 27 Aug. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of taint


1573, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1601, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for taint


Middle English teynten to color & taynten to attaint; Middle English teynten, from Anglo-French teinter, from teint, past participle of teindre, from Latin tingere; Middle English taynten, short for attaynten — more at tinge, attain

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Taint.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taint. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for taint


\ ˈtānt How to pronounce taint (audio) \
tainted; tainting

Kids Definition of taint

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to rot slightly tainted meat
2 : to affect slightly with something bad One bad game tainted my reputation as the best.



Kids Definition of taint (Entry 2 of 2)

: a trace of decay


transitive verb
\ ˈtānt How to pronounce taint (audio) \

Legal Definition of taint

: to damage or destroy the validity of evidence tainted by an illegal search

Other Words from taint

taint noun

More from Merriam-Webster on taint

Nglish: Translation of taint for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of taint for Arabic Speakers


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