\ 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

Just because Epstein dined alongside intellectuals doesn’t, on its own, taint their work. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Jeffrey Epstein and the Power of Networks," 27 Aug. 2019 Under the act, condemned men and women could seek a life sentence by using statistics to show that race tainted their trials. CBS News, "North Carolina death row prisoners to argue sentences tainted by race," 26 Aug. 2019 Smiley said the department changed its position because the detective in charge of the case said making it public wouldn’t taint the probe. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Video shows 2 men vandalizing Louisville's controversial Castleman statue in May," 8 Aug. 2019 Morrison invalidated the lie, which taints our minds especially, that our people are either one way or the other. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "Toni Morrison and What Our Mothers Couldn’t Say," 7 Aug. 2019 The city is stepping up its efforts to flush tainted water out of the affected area, the release said. Ron Hurtibise, sun-sentinel.com, "Boil water order still in place for portion of Las Olas Isles," 3 Aug. 2019 Many criticised the move and predicted Henry would taint his memory among the fans. SI.com, "Thierry Henry: On This Day in 1999 the Arsenal Legend Joined the Gunners for a Club-Record Fee," 3 Aug. 2019 And the real point of that smell is to taint all Americans. Luis Alberto Urrea, Time, "The Shame of the Border Crisis Will Never Leave Us," 2 Aug. 2019 No other Entenmann's products, including Little Bites Muffins, are similarly tainted since Little Bites Cookies are made on a dedicated production line, the company said. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Entenmann's Little Bites Soft Baked Cookies have been recalled due to blue plastic contamination," 2 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "#MeToo: A timeline of 2018’s sexual harassment scandals," 16 May 2018 These clergy and parishioners dismissed the humanitarian act of rescuing Jews — which was also undeniably political — as a course best avoided by a church that perceived itself above the taint of worldly affairs. Rabbi Dan Fink, idahostatesman, "Neutrality is not a moral option | Idaho Statesman," 21 Apr. 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

6 Sep 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

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authorized for issue (as a bond)

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