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

Or is his specious Nice Guy(™) persona tarnished forever? Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Pusha T, Drake, and the Limits of Rap Beef," 30 May 2018 And there goes a piece of Davis’ legacy sailing out the window, tarnished forever. Scott Fowler, charlotteobserver, "Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis just took a big hit. Will his legacy ever recover? | Charlotte Observer," 6 Apr. 2018 But high points for Russian athletes have been rare since the country’s image was tarnished by doping, with numerous Olympic medals stripped for drug use. BostonGlobe.com, "Russia shuts out Saudi Arabia in World Cup opener," 14 June 2018 After the acquisition failure, Bumble claims (in this lawsuit that could be dropped) that Match filed its lawsuit challenging the IP of Bumble’s swiping features and gestures out of spite and to tarnish the app’s name. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Bumble is slowly backing off on its $400 million lawsuit against Match Group," 2 Nov. 2018 No one was eager to tarnish the memory of President Harding, a devoted golfer with fair hair, a poor diet, and a penchant for extramarital affairs. Kevin Baker, The New Republic, "Why America needs truth and reconciliation after Trump," 17 May 2018 Just about every Kennedy delighted in adulterous hookups while in office, and girls on the side have followed President Clinton from Little Rock to this day, tarnishing his reputation but not his legacy. Marcia Desanctis, Town & Country, "Mark Sanford, Act II," 14 Feb. 2013 With the upcoming Disney merger, Fox — and Deadpool — are about to be under new management that is infamously intolerant of racy content that could damage or tarnish the House of Mouse’s squeaky-clean, family-friendly brand. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Deadpool 2 returns to theaters as PG-13 Christmas film Once Upon a Deadpool," 5 Nov. 2018 The government wanted to project an image of a prosperous country, and massive protests of rebellious students would tarnish that image. Andalusia Knoll, Teen Vogue, "What to Know About the 1968 Tlatelolco Plaza Student Massacre," 2 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For heavier tarnish, mix a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Silver and Prevent Tarnish," 20 Nov. 2018 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

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

10 Feb 2019

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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