\ 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

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Other Words from taint


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

Synonyms for taint

Synonyms: Verb

blemish, darken, mar, poison, spoil, stain, tarnish, touch, vitiate

Synonyms: Noun

blot, brand, onus, slur, smirch, smudge, spot, stain, stigma

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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


criticism of her sister's singing that was tainted by envy a tendency toward conceitedness taints that athlete's status as a role model


that rare political campaign that wasn't marred by the taint of false accusations
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Tip: Warshaw recommends water purification tablets in case the water supply becomes tainted. Melissa Kossler Dutton, The Seattle Times, "Wildfire haze is good reminder to update your go-bag. Here’s how," 21 Aug. 2018 Warshaw recommends water purification tablets in case the water supply becomes tainted. Washington Post, "What goes into a go-bag? How to prepare an emergency kit," 12 June 2018 The decision on whether to release Mill now or soon still rests with the judge in his case, but the district attorney announcing that the conviction may be tainted will likely help Mill's position. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Meek Mill could be freed: Arresting cop may have lied, DA won't oppose rapper's release," 14 Mar. 2018 More than 600 Bucks and Montgomery Counties residents have agreed to participate in a state study to determine the health impact after drinking water that was possibly tainted for years by chemicals leaching off former military bases. Justine Mcdaniel, Philly.com, "Pa. moves ahead with blood tests of residents near tainted Bucks, Montco bases," 19 June 2018 But the documentary shows that when this news story broke, her credibility — and by extension Esther's — was tainted. Tre'vell Anderson, latimes.com, "Four takeaways from 'The Rachel Divide,' Netflix's new documentary about Rachel Dolezal," 27 Apr. 2018 Mosby’s office recently reported that 1,700 criminal cases had been affected, and possibly tainted, by the GTTF. Dan Rodricks, baltimoresun.com, "Amid epic police corruption, Mosby eludes blame for surge in violence," 27 June 2018 In his fledgling days as a drug trafficker, the Medellin native had invested much of his blood tainted cash into grassroots football inside the city's slums. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 6 Weeks to Go - The Own Goal That Killed Andres Escobar," 13 May 2018 But the period instead was tainted by army killings of peasants, demonstrators and opposition leaders. Jacqueline Charles, miamiherald, "Henri Namphy, one-time coup leader and Haiti president, dies in Dominican Republic," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, asked if Mr. Mueller had properly addressed the potential taint of political bias brought to the case by Mr. Strzok. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "House G.O.P. Breaks Into Open Warfare With Rosenstein, Demanding Files," 28 June 2018 Withheld Pulling out of your job because your boss is corrupt does little more than keep your own reputation free of taint by association. New York Times, "What Do I Owe My Sociopathic Sibling?," 2 July 2018 With McCain, the honors were far out waged to taints. Fox News, "Bill Bennett on McCain, warts and all," 27 Aug. 2018 Mark Zuckerberg has cornered the market on the hoodie, and Elizabeth Holmes gave a taint to the turtleneck that Steve Jobs used so well. Caille Millner, San Francisco Chronicle, "Is a sucker really born every minute? The Bay Area will find out," 31 May 2018 Petro’s anti-corruption platform and his unconventional path into politics helps him avoid the taint that falls on establishment politicians. Ian Bremmer, Time, "5 Reasons Why Right-Wing Senator Ivan Duque Is Likely to Win Colombia's Presidential Election," 1 June 2018 That group, known as a taint team, would then do their own review of the remaining materials to determine which were privileged. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Judge Orders Document Review in Cohen Case to End Next Week," 26 June 2018 In Vinous, critic Antonio Galloni addresses a question that’s been on all of our minds: Will smoke taint be a major issue in Napa Valley wines from the 2017 vintage? Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, "Signs of new life in California vineyards," 21 June 2018 There is the taint of stigma and a reticence to talk openly about this kind of reproductive loss. Tara Shafer, Redbook, "I Lost a Baby at 33 Weeks — Now I'm Fighting to Spare Others the Same Pain," 19 June 2018

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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near taint






tainter gate


Statistics for taint

Last Updated

31 May 2019

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Time Traveler for taint

The first known use of taint was in 1573

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More Definitions for taint



English Language Learners Definition of taint

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to hurt or damage the good condition of (something)
: to make (something) dangerous or dirty especially by adding something harmful or undesirable to it



English Language Learners Definition of taint (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that causes a person or thing to be thought of as bad, dishonest, etc.


\ 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
\ 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on taint

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with taint

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for taint

Spanish Central: Translation of taint

Nglish: Translation of taint for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of taint for Arabic Speakers

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having a desire to acquire more things

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