v. tar·nished, tar·nish·ing, tar·nish·es
1. To dull the luster of; discolor, especially by exposure to air or dirt: Being in the ground for so long tarnished the old coins.
a. To detract from or spoil: a tasteless meal that tarnished an otherwise pleasant evening.
b. To bring disgrace to; sully: a scandal that tarnished his reputation.
1. To lose luster; become discolored: a metal that tarnishes quickly.
2. To become less enjoyable or estimable: Her admiration for the movie's producer quickly tarnished.
1. The condition of being tarnished: no sign of tarnish on the frame.
2. A film or layer of discoloration on a metal surface caused by corrosion or oxidation.
3. The condition of being disgraced or made less estimable: the tarnish on his reputation.
[Middle English ternishen, from Old French ternir, terniss-, to darken, tarnish, from Frankish *tarnjan; see dher- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.