Word of the Day : November 3, 2011


noun puh-TEE-nuh


1 a : a usually green film formed on copper and bronze by exposure to moist air and often valued aesthetically for its color

b : a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use

2 : an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character

3 : a superficial covering or exterior


Although the winery is brand-new, it has been constructed and decorated to give it a patina of old-world quaintness.

"Harry said the copper would be a good covering for the entry room ceiling once a patina had developed." -- From Annie Proulx’s Bird Cloud: A Memoir, 2011

Did You Know?

Italians began using "patina" in the 17th century to refer to the green film that is produced on the surface of copper. They borrowed the word from Latin, where it means "a shallow dish." (Presumably, the Italian meaning developed from the observation of such film forming on copper dishes.) By the mid-18th century, English speakers were also calling the green film "patina." And by the early 20th century, "patina" was being used in English for the gloss of polished metals, like silver, as well as wooden furniture -- a meaning that led to its literary use for a surrounding aura, as demonstrated in this quote from Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm (1932): "The very atmosphere seemed covered with a rich patina of love."

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