tarnish

verb
tar·nish | \ˈtär-nish \
tarnished; tarnishing; tarnishes

Definition of tarnish 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to dull or destroy the luster of by or as if by air, dust, or dirt : soil, stain

2a : to detract from the good quality of : vitiate his fine dreams now slightly tarnished

b : to bring disgrace on : sully the scandal has tarnished his reputation

tarnish

noun

Definition of tarnish (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that tarnishes especially : a film of chemically altered material on the surface of a metal (such as silver)

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Other Words from tarnish

Verb

tarnishable \ˈtär-ni-shə-bəl \ adjective

Synonyms for tarnish

Synonyms: Verb

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

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Examples of tarnish in a Sentence

Verb

Some foods will tarnish silver. The scandal tarnished his reputation.

Noun

a polish that removes tarnish
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

One objective for Scott is to avoid being tarnished by President Donald Trump, who is seen by many Puerto Ricans as having an indifferent response to the hurricane. Anthony Man, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Poll of Puerto Ricans in Florida has good news for Dems — and for Gov. Scott," 30 June 2018 But as Uber grew and its public image became tarnished by a series of scandals, this strategy stopped working so well. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Uber wins back its right to operate in London," 26 June 2018 Their legacy is not going to be tarnished on one game. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "Warren Central aims to be first undefeated champ in nine years," 19 Mar. 2018 Chapman's death should not tarnish Slabinski's medal, said Dwight Mears, an author and expert on military valor. Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY, "President Donald Trump awards Navy SEAL the Medal of Honor for fight against al-Qaeda," 24 May 2018 Now, many teachers and parents say Broward has created a culture in which teachers are expressly told or subtly pressured not to send students to the administration for punishment so a school’s image is not tarnished. Megan O'matz, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Schools' culture of tolerance lets students like Nikolas Cruz slide," 13 May 2018 But almost everyone agrees the treasure is tarnished. Phil Diehl, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Decision on Buena Vista Lagoon project likely delayed until summer," 22 Apr. 2018 Corruption scandals around fuel purchases tarnished Prepa’s reputation and sparked lawsuits and investigations. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Puerto Rico Power Utility CEO Resigns After Less Than Four Months on Job," 11 July 2018 Johnson’s rules furor practically overshadowed his win in ’16, the greens at Chambers Bay tarnished the ’15 event (at least until a crazy Spieth/Johnson finish) and Martin Kaymer romped at Pinehurst in ’14. Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle, "U.S. Open has many contenders, but don’t underestimate Tiger," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Rub the mixture on your copper item in circular motions and repeat until the entire surface is tarnish-free. Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Copper and Make It Shine Like New Again," 4 May 2018 The Swedish Academy won’t name a Nobel laureate in literature this year, depriving the book industry of one of its main annual promotional events, and acknowledging the tarnish on the highest honor in letters. Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, WSJ, "Swedish Academy Won’t Award Nobel Prize in Literature This Year," 4 May 2018 For heavier tarnish, mix three parts baking soda to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth. Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Every Type of Jewelry," 9 Mar. 2018 But the flood of bad news has put a serious tarnish on the brand just as key competitors like Hyundai, Volkswagen, General Motors and others start bringing their own long-range models to market. NBC News, "Tesla recalls almost half the cars it ever built, as shares tank and Musk's billions shrink," 30 Mar. 2018 Each ornament features a three-dimensional design with a tarnish-resistant silver finish. Ann Norman, cleveland.com, "Lolly the Trolley returns to Medina Candlelight Walk Nov. 17-19," 3 Nov. 2017 Though this is the first time that a defamation suit has centered on a claim of changing gender, past courts have been forced to determine whether being deemed gay tarnishes a reputation. Kenzie Bryant, vanityfair.com, "Richard Simmons’s Loss Could Be Transgender Rights’ Gain," 31 Aug. 2017 With this nifty trick, a chemical reaction causes tarnish to transfer from your silver flatware to the aluminum foil. Lauren Piro, Good Housekeeping, "11 Who-Knew Uses for Aluminum Foil," 28 July 2017 In the midst of all this, the pedigreed Falkeses try to resist the tarnish of the Wolinskis. Caroline Leavitt, New York Times, "Fathers and Sons — and Maybe Two More Sons," 23 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tarnish.' 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 tarnish

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1684, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tarnish

Verb

Middle English ternysshen, from Middle French terniss-, stem of ternir, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German tarnan to hide

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Statistics for tarnish

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tarnish

The first known use of tarnish was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for tarnish

tarnish

verb

English Language Learners Definition of tarnish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to become or cause (metal) to become dull and not shiny

: to damage or ruin the good quality of (something, such as a person's reputation, image, etc.)

tarnish

noun

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

: a thin layer on the surface of metal which makes the metal look dull

tarnish

verb
tar·nish | \ˈtär-nish \
tarnished; tarnishing

Kids Definition of tarnish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make or become dull, dim, or discolored

2 : to bring disgrace or ruin The scandal tarnished his reputation.

tarnish

noun

Kids Definition of tarnish (Entry 2 of 2)

: a surface coating formed during tarnishing

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