tar·​na·​tion ˌtär-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce tarnation (audio)
: damnation
often used as an interjection or intensive
often used with in
tarnation strike meJames Joycewhere in tarnation you from?Jessamyn West

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web But now, a problem — what in tarnation is all this stuff, these weird terms and phrases being bandied about? Oren Hartov, Robb Report, 26 Sep. 2022 What in the wide tarnation is better on a winter’s day than the smell of something sweet baking in your oven? James P. Dewan, chicagotribune.com, 13 Dec. 2017 The last thing Iowa needs is for its defense to run all over tarnation for 30 minutes while the offense stumbles. Scott Dochterman, ajc, 15 Sep. 2017

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

Word History


alteration of darnation, euphemism for damnation

First Known Use

1790, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tarnation was in 1790

Dictionary Entries Near tarnation

Cite this Entry

“Tarnation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tarnation. Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

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