tarnation

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From darnation, influenced by tarnal (from "eternal"), from (euphemistic) damnation; see darn.

Noun[edit]

tarnation (countable and uncountable, plural tarnations)

  1. (archaic) The act or process of damnation or reprobation; hell.
    What in tarnation is going on?

Usage notes[edit]

This New Englandism has fallen out of use in New England, but is remembered for its colorfulness and is still used in the Southeastern United States as a minced oath, where ‘hell’ or ‘damn’ would otherwise be said, especially in the phrase "what in tarnation".