verb (used with object)
- to dull the luster of (a metallic surface), especially by oxidation; discolor.
- to diminish or destroy the purity of; stain; sully: The scandal tarnished his reputation.
verb (used without object)
- to grow dull or discolored; lose luster.
- to become sullied.
- a tarnished coating.
- tarnished condition; discoloration; alteration of the luster of a metal.
- a stain or blemish.
- to lose or cause to lose the shine, esp by exposure to air or moisture resulting in surface oxidation; discoloursilver tarnishes quickly
- to stain or become stained; taint or spoila fraud that tarnished his reputation
- a tarnished condition, surface, or film
v.1590s, from present participle stem of Middle French ternir “dull the luster or brightness of, make dim” (15c.), probably from Old French terne (adj.) “dull, dark,” from a Germanic source cognate with Old High German tarnjan “to conceal, hide,” Old English dyrnan “to hide, darken,” from Proto-Germanic *darnjaz (see dern). Figurative sense is from 1690s. Related: Tarnished; tarnishing. n.1713, from tarnish (v.).