from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To affect with or as if with a disease.
  • transitive v. To affect with decay or putrefaction; spoil. See Synonyms at contaminate.
  • transitive v. To corrupt morally.
  • transitive v. To affect with a tinge of something reprehensible.
  • intransitive v. To become affected with decay or putrefaction; spoil.
  • n. A moral defect considered as a stain or spot. See Synonyms at stain.
  • n. An infecting touch, influence, or tinge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A contamination, decay or putrefaction, especially in food
  • n. A mark of disgrace, especially on one's character; blemish
  • n. tincture; hue; colour
  • n. infection; corruption; deprivation
  • v. To contaminate or corrupt (something) with an external agent, either physically or morally.
  • v. To spoil (food) by contamination.
  • n. A thrust with a lance, which fails of its intended effect.
  • n. An injury done to a lance in an encounter, without its being broken; also, a breaking of a lance in an encounter in a dishonorable or unscientific manner.
  • n. The perineum.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A thrust with a lance, which fails of its intended effect.
  • n. An injury done to a lance in an encounter, without its being broken; also, a breaking of a lance in an encounter in a dishonorable or unscientific manner.
  • n. Tincture; hue; color; tinge.
  • n. Infection; corruption; deprivation.
  • n. A blemish on reputation; stain; spot; disgrace.
  • intransitive v. To thrust ineffectually with a lance.
  • intransitive v. To be infected or corrupted; to be touched with something corrupting.
  • intransitive v. To be affected with incipient putrefaction.
  • transitive v. To injure, as a lance, without breaking it; also, to break, as a lance, but usually in an unknightly or unscientific manner.
  • transitive v. To hit or touch lightly, in tilting.
  • transitive v. To imbue or impregnate with something extraneous, especially with something odious, noxious, or poisonous; hence, to corrupt; to infect; to poison.
  • transitive v. Fig.: To stain; to sully; to tarnish.
  • transitive v. Aphetic form of attaint.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To tinge; tincture; hence, to imbue; touch; affect.
  • To imbue with something of a deleterious or offensive nature; infect or impregnate with a noxious substance or principle; affect with insalubrity, contagion, disease, or the like.
  • To make noisome or poisonous in constitution; corrupt the elements of; render putrid, deleterious, or unfit for use as food or drink.
  • To corrupt morally; imbue with perverse or objectionable ideas; exert a vitiating influence over; pervert; contaminate.
  • To give a corrupted character or appearance to; affect injuriously; stain; sully; tarnish.
  • To disgrace; fix contumely upon.
  • To treat with a tincture; embrocate; mollify.
  • = Syn. 2-5. Contaminate, Defile, Taint, Pollute, Corrupt, Vitiate. Whether these words are regarded as meaning the injuring of purity or the spoiling of value, they are in the order of strength, except that each is used in different degrees of strength, and that vitiate is one of the weaker words and taint a strong word for rendering impure. Corrupt means the absolute destruction of purity. They all suggest an influence from without coming upon or into that whose purity or value is injured.
  • To be tinged or tinctured; become imbued or touched.
  • To become tainted or rancid; be affected with incipient putrefaction.
  • Tainted; touched; imbued.
  • To touch or hit in tilting; reach with a thrust, as of a lance or other weapon.
  • To thrust, as a lance or other weapon, especially in tilting.
  • To make an effort or essay, as a juster; tilt, as in the just; make a thrust.
  • To attaint.
  • n. Color; hue; dye; tinge.
  • n. A stain; a spot; a blemish; a touch of discredit or dishonor.
  • n. An infecting tinge; a trace; a touch.
  • n. A corrupting or contaminating influence, physical or moral; a cause or condition of depravation or decay; an infection.
  • n. A certain spider of small size and red color, reputed to be poisonous: perhaps a species of Latrodectus, but probably only a harvest-mite, and not poisonous.
  • n. A thrust, as of a lance in tilting; especially, a preliminary movement or trial with a weapon, as in the tilt, or, by extension, in battle.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the state of being contaminated
  • v. contaminate with a disease or microorganism
  • v. place under suspicion or cast doubt upon


Partly from obsolete taynt, to color, dye (from Anglo-Norman teint, from past participle of teindre, from Latin tingere), and partly from Middle English tainten, to convict (short for atteinten, from Old French ataint, past participle of ataindre, to attain, touch upon; see attain).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin tingere, tinctum via French teint (past participle of teindre ("to dye, to tinge")) (Wiktionary)
From French atteinte ("a blow, bit, stroke"). Compare with attaint. (Wiktionary)
Reportedly from the phrase “'tain't your balls and 'tain't your ass”. (Wiktionary)



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  • Nice link, 'zuzu!
    Also: the pics on this make you wonder, and the tweets make you wish you didn't.

    September 11, 2011

  • I'm guessing, but I think taint in the sense of "perineum" ("T'ain't your ass and t'ain't your balls") originated in the gay demimonde. At least, I first came across it, with an explanatory gloss, in a gay porn magazine sometime in the mid-1980s.

    September 9, 2011

  • I didn't get it until I read the comments. For what it's worth, Wiktionary does list "The perineum" as its fifth definition.

    September 9, 2011

  • I really didn't get that.

    September 9, 2011

  • "Libya Ferrets Out Gadhafi's Taint"

    September 8, 2011

  • taint is also a contraction of "it ain't" - which would make it unique as a word with two apostrophes - t'ain't. From old time radio Fibber Magee & Molly "T'ain't funny, Magee"

    August 20, 2009