Meaning of STAIN in English


I. ˈstān verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English steynen, partly from Middle French desteindre to discolor & partly of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse steina to paint — more at distain

transitive verb

1. : to discolor with foreign matter : make foul (as with spots or blemishes)

2. : to impart to or suffuse with color

like wine that stains a pearly glass — Elinor Wylie


a. : to corrupt or defile morally : taint with guilt, vice, or corruption

b. : to inflict a stigma upon : bring reproach on

4. obsolete : to eclipse by superior beauty or excellence

5. obsolete : to obscure the luster of

whether poverty … staineth nobility — Henry Peacham

6. : to color (as wood, glass, paper, or cloth) by processes affecting chemically or otherwise the material itself : tinge with a color combining with or penetrating the substance

stain wood with acids

— compare dye

7. : to foil (the scent of the quarry) especially by the passage of hounds, horses, cattle, or other animals over the track

intransitive verb

: to receive a stain : absorb coloring matter

II. noun

( -s )

1. : something that stains: as

a. : a discoloration by foreign matter : spot

a stain on his shirt

water stains

weather stains

mineral stain

b. : a discoloration of the skin : blotch

c. : a natural spot of color different from the ground

swift trouts, diversified with crimson stains — Alexander Pope

2. obsolete : a cause of reproach or disgrace

stain to thy countrymen, thou hear'st thy doom — Shakespeare

3. : a taint of guilt (as on one's character, conscience, or reputation) : a mark of disgrace or infamy : a usually grave blemish : stigma , tarnish

on him had fallen … the stain of the massacres — J.A.Froude

degrades … the unhappy issue of the marriage by fixing upon it the stain of bastardy — R.B.Taney

4. : a dye, pigment, or preparation used in staining:

a. : a solution or dispersion of a dye or pigment in a vehicle (as water, alcohols, or oils) that is usually thinner than a paint or other coating, transparent, and capable of penetrating the pores of wood or other material instead of forming a protective surface

b. : a dye or mixture of dyes used in microscopy to make visible minute and transparent structures, to differentiate tissue elements, or to produce specific microchemical reactions

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.