v. stained, stain·ing, stains
1. To discolor, soil, or spot: The spilled juice stained the carpet.
2. To bring into disrepute; taint or tarnish: The scandal stained the mayor's reputation.
3. To change the color of (a piece of wood, for example) by applying a stain.
4. To treat (a specimen for the microscope) with a reagent or dye in order to identify cell or tissue structures or microorganisms.
To produce or receive discolorations: upholstery that stains easily.
1. A discolored or soiled spot or smudge: a stain that was difficult to scrub out.
2. A diminishment of one's moral character or good reputation by being associated with something disgraceful.
3. A liquid substance applied especially to wood that penetrates the surface and imparts a rich color.
4. A reagent or dye used for staining microscopic specimens.
[Middle English steinen, partly from Old French desteindre, desteign-, to deprive of color (des-, dis- + teindre, to dye, from Latin tingere), and partly from Old Norse steina, to paint.]
Synonyms: stain, blot1, brand, stigma, taint
These nouns denote a mark of discredit or disgrace, as on one's good name: a stain on his honor; a blot on an otherwise clean police record; the brand of cowardice; the stigma of ignominious defeat; the taint of political corruption.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus