From Middle French terniss-, stem of ternir (“to make dull, deaden, tarnish”), from Old French ternir (“to make dim, make wan”), from Frankish *tarnjan (“to cover up, conceal, hide”), from Proto-Germanic *darnijaną (“to conceal”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰer- (“to hold, hold tight, support”). Cognate with Old High German *tarnjan, tarnen (“to hide, cover up, conceal”) (Modern German tarnen), Old English dyrnan, diernan (“to keep secret, conceal, hide, restrain, repress”). More at dern, darn.
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- (intransitive) To oxidize or discolor due to oxidation.
- Careful storage of silver will prevent it from tarnishing.
- (transitive) To soil, sully, damage or compromise
- He is afraid that he will tarnish his reputation if he disagrees.
- (intransitive, figuratively) To lose its lustre or attraction; to become dull.
- Till thy fresh glories, which now shine so bright, / Grow stale and tarnish with our daily sight.