tarnish

verb
tar·​nish | \ ˈtär-nish How to pronounce tarnish (audio) \
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 How to pronounce tarnishable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for tarnish

Synonyms: Verb

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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 The request ignited opposition from a group of civic leaders who said the move would tarnish Yawkey’s record of charitable giving. Michael Rezendes, Houston Chronicle, "Red Sox dogged by claims of racism, sexual abuse," 7 July 2020 The request ignited opposition from a group of civic leaders who said the move would tarnish Mr. Yawkey's record of charitable giving. Michael Rezendes, The Christian Science Monitor, "Red Sox track record: Racism and allegations of sexual abuse," 7 July 2020 Silver chains on necklaces and bracelets can tarnish easily from contact with lotions, perfumes, and perspiration, and these delicate pieces often need special care. Laura Lambert, Better Homes & Gardens, "How to Clean Silver Jewelry in a Matter of Minutes," 3 June 2020 Stepping into the party-political arena could tarnish that aura. John Follain, Bloomberg.com, "Conte’s Popularity Sparks Speculation He Could Grab a Party Role," 14 June 2020 Unlike wiping down countertops or vacuuming the floors, cleaning your jewelry, especially those silver pieces that tarnish so easily, likely isn't one of the tasks at the top of your to-do list. Laura Lambert, Better Homes & Gardens, "How to Clean Silver Jewelry in a Matter of Minutes," 3 June 2020 Remember that no person or situation can tarnish their accomplishments nor prevent them from achieving their goals. Daniel Curran, ExpressNews.com, "Kerrville graduates are stronger, ready to soar," 10 June 2020 The parents in the film see Roslyn High School as the perfect stepping stone for a future Ivy League education, and tarnishing the school’s image means potentially hurting their children’s chances at a Princeton ticket. Kaitlin Reilly, refinery29.com, "The Bad Education Writer On The Real Town Scandal Behind HBO’s New Movie," 24 Apr. 2020 The legacy of Kristina’s grandfather was later tarnished when he was accused (many say unfairly) of Nazi sympathies. Kate Stone Lombardi, Good Housekeeping, "Grandparents Have Had Enough of Your Weird Baby Names," 21 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The key to tarnish-free silver jewelry is prevention. Laura Lambert, Better Homes & Gardens, "How to Clean Silver Jewelry in a Matter of Minutes," 3 June 2020 Just let the paste dry completely to remove the tarnish. Laura Lambert, Better Homes & Gardens, "How to Clean Silver Jewelry in a Matter of Minutes," 3 June 2020 That said, the string of embarrassing Evans disclosures is undoing much good work in the city that scrubbed away the tarnish of its past government scandals. Robert Mccartney, Washington Post, "Harm to D.C.’s image will only grow as long as Jack Evans clings to council seat.," 10 Nov. 2019 Over time, however, its beauty can become blackened with tarnish. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How To Clean Tarnished Brass," 20 Jan. 2020 Corrosion, also known as tarnish, is the green buildup that appears on copper over time. Amy Mitchell, Country Living, "How to Clean Copper so It Goes From Green to Great," 14 Jan. 2020 The extra fine, microscopic abrasive particles in this Simichrome polish scrubs away oils and tarnishes. Billy Cadden, Popular Science, "The best cleaning products to freshen up your home," 21 Mar. 2018 Try baking soda: For heavier tarnish, mix three parts baking soda to one part water. Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Your Jewelry Like a Pro," 7 May 2019 With the pendant's many curves and ridges, cleaning off a bit of tarnish is more difficult than preventing it in the first place. Alyssa Haak, Marie Claire, "The Item I Wear to Death: My Vintage Kale Necklace," 17 Apr. 2019

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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Time Traveler for tarnish

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tarnish

Last Updated

11 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tarnish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tarnish. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for tarnish

tarnish

verb
How to pronounce tarnish (audio)

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 How to pronounce tarnish (audio) \
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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