\ 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

The chain of custody is a systematic process intended to show evidence has been collected properly by professionals and not been tainted. Victoria Knight, CNN, "At-home rape kits draw criticism: 'It's hard enough for survivors to get justice, and this is just making it even harder'," 10 Sep. 2019 Others relied on private wells where tests show water was tainted. Bruce Finley, The Denver Post, "Colorado ramps up response to toxic “forever chemicals” after discovery of hot spots across metro Denver," 10 Sep. 2019 Genuine leather’s environmental credentials are tainted by its use of toxic chemicals in the tanning process. Denitsa Tsekova, Fortune, "Sizing Up Vegan Leather: Is It Just A Fad?," 23 Aug. 2019 Unfortunately, these lovely excursions can be tainted by pesky bug bites, especially from mosquitoes. Elizabeth King, Allure, "Why Mosquitos Bite Some People More Than Others," 8 Aug. 2019 Experts have urged travelers not to avoid the country, arguing that a handful of cases shouldn’t taint the entire destination. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "7 questions about the unexplained tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic, answered," 18 June 2019 The massive battlefield remains a problem for Republicans, who have struggled to match Democratic fundraising and face several first-time candidates not yet tainted by Washington. Lisa Mascaro, The Seattle Times, "Senate slipping away as Dems fight to preserve blue wave," 23 Oct. 2018 Attorneys for the state argued that needle size is meaningless and doesn’t taint blood-alcohol results. Marc Freeman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Florida Supreme Court denies John Goodman's blood challenge in manslaughter case," 1 Feb. 2018 That was patently false; other parties won forty-three of the hundred seats in Parliament, in a poll tainted by voter intimidation. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Robert Mugabe and the Fate of Democracy in Africa," 9 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For their part, Garcia said Annunciation House would not apply for reimbursement, in order to avoid the taint of association with the federal government. Aaron Cantú, The New Republic, "Inside Trump’s Border Chaos," 12 Sep. 2019 Epstein is gone, but his taint lives on and there may well be more resignations to come. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Another powerful person just lost a job over ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein," 7 Sep. 2019 It's believed the rite cleanses a soldier of war's taint and heads off postwar ailments. Betty Reid, azcentral, "To Chester Nez, last of the original Code Talkers, the words are more than a code," 29 Aug. 2019 For some, expunging the taint of the Saudis from the U.S. alliance system may be worth the price. Mike Watson, National Review, "Why the Middle East Policies Favored by Sanders and Warren Would Be Counterproductive," 30 July 2019 Szeemann’s thesis consolidated a generational revolt, among intellectually inclined and politically alienated art-school graduates, against conventions of artistic form and taints of marketing. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Harald Szeemann’s Revolutionary Curating," 15 July 2019 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 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 His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Brendan Fraser’s #MeToo Story Is a Lot of Things, But It Is Definitely Not a “Joke”," 6 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

18 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

Comments on taint

What made you want to look up taint? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to fake an opponent out of position

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