tan

verb
\ ˈtan How to pronounce tan (audio) \
tanned; tanning

Definition of tan

 (Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to make (skin) tan especially by exposure to the sun
2a : to convert (hide) into leather by treatment with an infusion of tannin-rich bark or other agent of similar effect
b : to convert (protein) to leather or a similar substance
3 : thrash, whip

intransitive verb

: to get or become tan

tan

adjective
tanner; tannest

Definition of tan (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : of the color tan
2 : of, relating to, or used for tan or tanning

tan

noun

Definition of tan (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : a brown color imparted to the skin especially by exposure to the sun
2 : a light yellowish brown
3 tans plural : tan-colored articles of clothing
4 : a tanning material or its active agent (such as tannin)

Definition of tan (Entry 4 of 4)

tangent

Examples of tan in a Sentence

Adjective I can't believe how tan she is! a horse with tan markings Noun I got a tan on my vacation.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb They tan, parade and snuggle in their bikinis, trunks and whatnot. Los Angeles Times, 15 Oct. 2021 And there's different instances of the normal story of the different hair and going swimming, that black people don't tan; that's huge in Florida. Dawn Ennis, Forbes, 19 June 2021 Two or three yolks (no egg whites included) are enough to tan something small like a rabbit pelt. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, 24 Dec. 2020 The brain of every game animal contains the perfect volume and balance of conditioning oils to tan its own hide. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, 24 Dec. 2020 The materials that go into this bag are Leather Working Group Gold-certified, meaning the leather is tanned in the highest level of compliance with sustainable measures, such as energy and water consumption, waste management, and effluent treatment. Camryn Rabideau, USA TODAY, 21 Apr. 2020 Sicilian blood works like the sun, tanning the flesh from the inside out. Lisa Taddeo, Harper's Magazine, 30 Mar. 2020 Perma-tanned and with long, floppy hair, Waugh developed a reputation among some Deutsche Bank colleagues for being a bit of a lightweight. New York Times, 4 Feb. 2020 The gunmen fled in a a silver or tan four-door sedan, driven by another man. Houston Chronicle, 13 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Bolduc estimated the mission cost the state approximately $500,000 for trooper salaries, travel expenses and items such as greenish-tan uniforms that are standard in Texas. Grant Schulte, Star Tribune, 22 July 2021 Outside the cage, Marlee Breese, dressed in a tan Hawaiian shirt with pink and yellow flowers, takes a small vitamin and stuffs it down the throat of a thawing five-centimeter-long fish called a lake smelt. Melody Bentz, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 July 2021 The chicken should be falling off the bone and become quite tan as well. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2021 There's a tan-colored fence surrounding the vast, mostly empty, cemetery. AZCentral.com, 17 Dec. 2020 Three men wearing only tan-colored briefs kneel on the stage. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 12 Nov. 2020 Trademark farmer tans and sock line tan lines – big time! Susan Glaser, cleveland, 3 May 2020 One of the men — who wore a black half-nose mask with black sunglasses, a black leather style jacket, camo pants, desert tan military style boots, and black gloves — worked the safe, deputies said. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, 4 June 2019 Alani, in chains and dressed in a tan jail outfit, did not speak in court. Curt Anderson, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There are also a few big sun pads for anyone onboard who wants to work on their tan. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 6 Dec. 2021 Styled by Jason Bolden, Jolie wore a strapless tan Balmain RE22 dress paired with vintage Tiffany & Co. jewelry, and her kids all wore coordinating vintage pieces. Sabrina Park, Harper's BAZAAR, 19 Oct. 2021 The wrestler Cody Rhodes, an executive vice president at All Elite Wrestling, and a longtime friend of Amell, provided tips on how to get a proper wrestling tan or purchase the right kneepads. New York Times, 13 Aug. 2021 Today’s California memory is from Jill Grabowski: Like so many Americans in the mid-1960s, my parents ventured west in search of the California dream: gainful employment, a ranch house with a pool and a permanent tan. Justin Ray Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 9 Sep. 2021 Pair them with some no-show socks to flash the last of your tan, or make a snuggly pair the star of the show. Talia Abbas, Glamour, 26 Aug. 2021 Lovello uses the Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops mixed with moisturizer to get her gorgeous tan. Jennifer Aldrich, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 July 2021 To complete the look, the pop star wore a set of lime-green nails and a bronze tan. Tish Weinstock, Vogue, 9 July 2021 Those with fair skin should start with gradual application, building up to a tan that suits their tone best. Nikki Brown, PEOPLE.com, 1 June 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of tan

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

Adjective

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1674, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for tan

Verb

Middle English tannen, from Anglo-French tanner, from Medieval Latin tannare, from tanum, tannum tanbark

Noun

French, tanbark, from Old French, from Medieval Latin tanum

Buying Guide

Our team at The Usage has selected the best sunscreen.

Learn More About tan

Time Traveler for tan

Time Traveler

The first known use of tan was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near tan

Tamworth

tan

Tana

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for tan

Cite this Entry

“Tan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tan. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for tan

tan

verb

English Language Learners Definition of tan

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to cause (skin) to become darker especially from being exposed to the sun's rays
: to become darker especially from being exposed to the sun's rays
: to change (the skin of an animal) into leather by a chemical process

tan

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of tan (Entry 2 of 3)

: having skin that has been made darker by being exposed to the sun's rays
: having a light brown color

tan

noun

English Language Learners Definition of tan (Entry 3 of 3)

: a browning of the skin that is caused by the sun's rays
: a light brown color

tan

verb
\ ˈtan How to pronounce tan (audio) \
tanned; tanning

Kids Definition of tan

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to change animal hide into leather especially by soaking in a tannin solution
2 : to make or become brown in color She doesn't tan. Instead, she gets a sunburn.

tan

adjective
tanner; tannest

Kids Definition of tan (Entry 2 of 3)

: of a light yellowish brown color

tan

noun

Kids Definition of tan (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a brown color given to the skin by the sun or wind
2 : a light yellowish brown : the color of sand

tan

verb
\ ˈtan How to pronounce tan (audio) \
tanned; tanning

Medical Definition of tan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make (skin) tan especially by exposure to the sun

intransitive verb

: to get or become tanned

tan

noun

Medical Definition of tan (Entry 2 of 2)

: a brown color imparted to the skin by exposure to the sun or wind

More from Merriam-Webster on tan

Nglish: Translation of tan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tan for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tan

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!