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.
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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
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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
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Example sentences
Blue jays are sometimes known to eat eggs or nestlings, and it is this practice
  that has tarnished their reputation.
The pursuit of knowledge for the benefit of mankind ought not be messed up or
  tarnished by individual glory.
The limited number of flights a year, the cost, etc tarnished the program's
  promise in many ways.
If it turns out they find something sketchy, his credibility will be forever
  tarnished, as will the climate change debate.
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