There are 2 definitions of tan in English:

tan1

Syllabification: tan

noun

  • 1A yellowish-brown color: the overall color scheme of tan and cream
    More example sentences
    • The puppies are both crossbred males, one is black and white and smooth-coated and the other is nearly all black with some tan colouring.
    • They are usually brown, but can vary in colour from light tan to black.
    • She was dressed in tan fishing overalls with a fishing hat, bulky black boots, and a pink T-shirt underneath.
    Synonyms
    yellowish-brown, light brown, pale brown, beige, tawny
  • 1.1A golden-brown shade of skin developed by pale-skinned people after exposure to the sun.
    More example sentences
    • If you want the golden glow of a tan without exposure to damaging UV light, consider using sunless tanning products or bronzers.
    • Develop golden tans and honour requests for autographs.
    • Flawless skin and a radiant tan are key to complementing the clothing trends for spring and summer 2002.
    Synonyms
    become suntanned, get a suntan, brown, go/get/become brown, bronze
  • 2 (also tanbark /ˈtanˌbärk/) Bark of oak or other trees, bruised and used as a source of tannin for converting hides into leather.
    More example sentences
    • Back in America, Quercus prinus was better known as mountain or rock oak, after its preferred habitat; tanbark oak after its preferred use; and nowadays, chestnut oak after the shape of its leaves.
    • It sniffed at me calmly, gave a canine-style shrug, and disappeared behind tanbark oaks.
    • Should tan bark be laid where leaves fall?
  • 2.1 (also spent tan) Bark from which the tannin has been extracted, used for covering the ground for walking, riding, playgrounds, etc., and in gardening.
    More example sentences
    • He held his breath as he positioned himself meticulously in the tanbark, shoelaces of his sneakers quivering.
    • She had stayed away from the sandpit, and the tanbark, and all the play equipment.
    • I grinned broadly and stepped off the footpath, slowly making my way across the grass, stepping into the large wooden-plank-outlined square of tanbark, and heading straight for the swings.

verb (tans, tanning, tanned)

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  • 1 [no object] (Of a pale-skinned person or their skin) become brown or browner after exposure to the sun: you’ll tan very quickly in the pure air
    More example sentences
    • He had pale skin, but it was March, and even then I understood that people tanned in summer and lost color in winter.
    • In case you are thinking why there is a line above the gstring tanline, I was tanning with a rather high-waist normal bikini bottom at first.
    • Whether you're tanning on the beach or staying cool at the mall, these glosses will be perfect for subtle shine or a high powered sheen.
  • 1.1 [with object] (usually as adjective tanned) (Of the sun) cause (a pale-skinned person or their skin) to become brown or browner: he looked tanned and fit
    More example sentences
    • It was a Japanese-American tanned girl with brown eyes, a red spaghetti strap dress with a yellow star and a wand.
    • A few minutes later the door opened and a small, pretty tanned girl with straight brown hair walked in.
    • The chiseled features had always been tanned deeply by the sun.
  • 2 [with object] Convert (animal skin) into leather by soaking in a liquid containing tannic acid, or by the use of other chemicals.
    More example sentences
    • They also came from the odiferous chemicals used to tan animal hides into leather.
    • On the second night, after a long day spent scraping and stretching and tanning a deer skin, he asked me what I was hiding from.
    • The next day he taught us how to tan the skin, and make weapons and tools from the bones.
  • 3 [with object] informal dated Beat (someone) repeatedly, especially as a punishment: “If Mickey touches a fishing net, I’ll tan his hide!”
    More example sentences
    • Everyone in the village did, or taught them, or tanned their hides for stealing apples.
    • Seriously...do you really think that your strength and your ability to tan the hide of a child is going to teach them respect?
    • My father would have tanned my hide if I pulled a stunt like that.

adjective

North American Back to top  
  • 1Of a yellowish-brown color: a tan baseball cap with orange piping
    More example sentences
    • The carpet was a tan color and was crusty in some spots.
    • The walls were painted a creamy tan color and along the walls were many different pictures of streets in many different countries and cities.
    • The office walls were plain white and the carpet was a generic tan color.
  • 1.1(Of a pale-skinned person) having golden-brown skin after exposure to the sun: she looks tall, tan, and healthy
    More example sentences
    • They were walking home from school, the tan girl on the left and the darker one on the right.
    • She turned and exhaled gratefully as the tan boy with the piercing eyes and spiky hair, stood with his arms crossed in a sarcastic manner behind her.
    • She was a tan girl with sleek dark hair and almond shaped eyes.

Derivatives

tanning

noun
More example sentences
  • Over the past four decades the traditional art of leather tanning has been developed into a specialised custom-made chemical process for the unique challenges presented by ostrich leather.
  • I am not going to cover the use of kits, but the old ways of tanning your hides.
  • The first thing you need to do is to prepare your hides for tanning.

tannish

adjective
More example sentences
  • She is applying some sort of tannish cream to her calf.
  • Her skin is a sort of tannish color like toasted almonds, sort of.
  • Now, with a tiny brush, he smoothed a tannish, powdery substance across his cheekbones.

Origin

late Old English tannian 'convert into leather', probably from medieval Latin tannare, perhaps of Celtic origin; reinforced in Middle English by Old French tanner. Early use of the noun (late Middle English) was sense 2 of the noun.

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Pronunciation: skōSH
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