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.

1590–1600; < Middle French terniss-, long stem of ternir to dull, deaden, derivative of terne dull, wan < Germanic; compare Old High German tarni, cognate with Old Saxon derni, Old English dierne hidden, obscure; see -ish2

tarnishable, adjective
antitarnish, adjective
antitarnishing, adjective
nontarnishable, adjective
nontarnished, adjective
nontarnishing, adjective
untarnishable, adjective
untarnished, adjective
untarnishing, adjective

2. taint, blemish, soil.

1. brighten.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To Tarnishing
World English Dictionary
tarnish (ˈtɑːnɪʃ)
1.  to lose or cause to lose the shine, esp by exposure to air or moisture resulting in surface oxidation; discolour: silver tarnishes quickly
2.  to stain or become stained; taint or spoil: a fraud that tarnished his reputation
3.  a tarnished condition, surface, or film
[C16: from Old French ternir to make dull, from terne lustreless, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German tarnen to conceal, Old English dierne hidden]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1598, from prp. stem of M.Fr. ternir "dull the luster or brightness of, make dim" (15c.), probably from O.Fr. adj. terne "dull, dark," from a Frank. source cognate with O.H.G. tarnjan "to conceal, hide," O.E. dyrnan "to hide, darken," from P.Gmc. *darnijaz, related to dark.
Figurative sense is from 1697. The noun is recorded from 1713.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Example sentences
But with that staggering increase in demand for services come myths that are
  tarnishing the purpose of the welfare system.
Some manufacturers offer special coatings on metal finishes to prevent
  scratches or tarnishing.
In another controlled chamber, the team heats a coated wafer to speed up the
Paying bills late or otherwise tarnishing your reputation.
Related Words
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature