a. A liquid that contains a solvent and an oxidizing or evaporating binder and is applied to a surface to produce a hard, transparent finish after evaporation and curing.
b. The smooth coating or gloss resulting from the application of this liquid: Wear dulled the floor's varnish.
a. Something suggestive of or resembling varnish.
b. An often deceptive external appearance or outward show: "people through whom a native stupidity shines forth past any varnish of education or acculturation" (Ira Sher).
tr.v. var·nished, var·nish·ing, var·nish·es
1. To cover with varnish.
2. To give a smooth and glossy finish to.
3. To give a superficial or deceptive appearance to: varnish the truth.
[Middle English vernisshe, from Old French vernis, from Medieval Latin veronix, vernix, sandarac resin, from Medieval Greek verenikē, from Greek Berenikē, Berenice (Benghazi), an ancient city of Cyrenaica.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.