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[tan] /tæn/
verb (used with object), tanned, tanning.
to convert (a hide) into leather, especially by soaking or steeping in a bath prepared from tanbark or synthetically.
to make brown by exposure to ultraviolet rays, as of the sun.
Informal. to thrash; spank.
verb (used without object), tanned, tanning.
to become tanned.
the brown color imparted to the skin by exposure to the sun or open air.
yellowish brown; light brown.
adjective, tanner, tannest.
of the color of tan; yellowish-brown.
used in or relating to tanning processes, materials, etc.
tan someone's hide, Informal. to beat someone soundly:
She threatened to tan our hides if she found us on her property again.
Origin of tan1
before 1000; 1920-25 for def 2; Middle English tannen to make hide into leather, late Old English *tannian (in past participle getanned; cf. tanner1) < Medieval Latin tannāre, derivative of tannum oak bark, tanbark < Germanic; compare Old High German tanna oak, fir, akin to Dutch den fir
Related forms
tannable, adjective
untanned, adjective
well-tanned, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for well tanned
Historical Examples
  • They were well tanned, and did not get sunburned as many little boys and girls do when they go to the seashore for the first time.

  • Turkey morocco is durable when well tanned, as it usually is.

  • Those ends are wonderfully soft too, as if the skin had been well tanned.

    The Peril Finders George Manville Fenn
  • I was only wondering whether I liked you as well tanned as I did when you were so nice and white, back in the city.

    The Rose Garden Husband Margaret Widdemer
  • The skin from some mountain-bred sheep, for example, if well tanned, makes a good leather.

  • Both of them are well tanned by exposure, and their garments seem to be of foreign make.

    Ande Trembath Matthew Stanley Kemp
  • "A healthy boy's skin should be well tanned after a holiday," says a health-culture writer.

  • They carry with them pictures painted in colours on deer skins, which are well tanned, and made fine like parchment.

  • The strips of hide, when well tanned and prepared, made valuable leather.

    The Swiss Family Robinson Johann David Wyss
  • Some were formed of the well tanned robes of the buffalo; some of boughs, twigs and bark; some of massive logs.

    Christopher Carson John S. C. Abbott
British Dictionary definitions for well tanned


the brown colour produced by the skin after intensive exposure to ultraviolet rays, esp those of the sun
a light or moderate yellowish-brown colour
short for tanbark
verb tans, tanning, tanned
to go brown or cause to go brown after exposure to ultraviolet rays: she tans easily
to convert (a skin or hide) into leather by treating it with a tanning agent, such as vegetable tannins, chromium salts, fish oils, or formaldehyde
(transitive) (slang) to beat or flog
adjective tanner, tannest
of the colour tan: tan gloves
used in or relating to tanning
Derived Forms
tannable, adjective
tannish, adjective
Word Origin
Old English tannian (unattested as infinitive, attested as getanned, past participle), from Medieval Latin tannāre, from tannum tanbark, perhaps of Celtic origin; compare Irish tana thin


tangent (sense 2)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for well tanned



late Old English tannian "to convert hide into leather" (by steeping it in tannin), from Medieval Latin tannare "tan, dye, a tawny color" (c.900), from tannum "crushed oak bark," used in tanning leather, probably from a Celtic source (e.g. Breton tann "oak tree"). The meaning "make brown by exposure to the sun" first recorded 1520s. To tan (someone's) hide in the figurative sense is from 1660s. Related: Tanned; tanning.


"bronze color imparted to skin by exposure to sun," 1749, see tan (v.). As a simple name for a brownish color, in any context, it is recorded from 1888. The adjective tan "of the color of tanned leather" is recorded from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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well tanned in Science
Abbreviation of tangent
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Related Abbreviations for well tanned




teeny area network
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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