To tarnish is to become dull or discolored. Silver tends to tarnish easily, which is why your mother is always having you polish the family silver.

As a noun, a tarnish is the dull layer of corrosion that sometimes forms on metal items, usually the result of the metal reacting to oxygen in the air. Metals are most likely to tarnish, but so can anything that once felt sparkly and bright but has lost its luster — even you. If the new kid just beat you in chess, your reputation as the best chess player in your class has started to tarnish. Better not lose again!

Definitions of tarnish
  1. verb
    make dirty or spotty, as by exposure to air; also used metaphorically
    “The silver was tarnished by the long exposure to the air”
    synonyms: defile, maculate, stain, sully
    see moresee less
    tarnish or stain
    type of:
    blob, blot, fleck, spot
    make a spot or mark onto
  2. noun
    discoloration of metal surface caused by oxidation
    see moresee less
    type of:
    discoloration, discolouration, stain
    a soiled or discolored appearance
Word Family