Definition of stain in English:

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Pronunciation: /steɪn/


[with object]
1Mark or discolour with something that is not easily removed: her clothing was stained with blood (as adjective stained) a stained beer mat [no object]: red powder paint can stain
More example sentences
  • If you wait, it may be too late to safely remove the spot without staining or discoloring the fabric.
  • I could remember him talking about how coffee can stain a person's teeth yellow and how he felt like he was too young to have yellow stained teeth.
  • Many of the flats above are boarded up, the railings at the front and the side of the properties have rusted and the concrete blocks are stained and marked with graffiti.
discolour, blemish, soil, mark, muddy, spot, spatter, splatter, smear, splash, smudge, blotch, blacken;
dirty, get/make dirty, get/make filthy, sully, spoil, defile, pollute, contaminate, foul, befoul, grime, begrime
literary besmirch
1.1 [no object] Be marked or be liable to be marked with a stain.
Example sentences
  • Is the cotton plug or filler in the bottle torn, sticky, or stained, or does it appear to have been taken out and put back?
  • He had came back, light-hearted and happy, but muddy and grass stained.
  • Slabs need to be sealed to prevent staining and moss growth.
1.2Damage or bring disgrace to (the reputation or image of someone or something): the awful events would unfairly stain the city’s reputation
More example sentences
  • His reputation is stained with recklessness and disorder.
  • A woman who dared defy this tradition was despised by her family for staining the reputation of her in-laws.
  • And not only are we ignoring world opinion, we have stained our national reputation by throwing around lies.
damage, injure, harm, sully, soil, blacken, tarnish, taint, besmirch, blemish, defile, blot, smear, bring discredit to, dishonour, drag through the mud
2Colour (a material or object) by applying a penetrative dye or chemical: wood can always be stained to a darker shade
More example sentences
  • Prime and paint or stain the new boards to match the rest of the house.
  • Weeds must be controlled, and the use of chemicals may stain the material.
  • It was on paper stained by one of their chemicals to simulate antique parchment.
colour, tint, dye, tinge, shade, pigment;
varnish, paint, colour-wash


1A coloured patch or dirty mark that is difficult to remove: there were mud stains on my shoes
More example sentences
  • Then when I tried to spit on my fingers and clean the stains they become dirty mud stains.
  • Anna was dressed in a dirty nightgown with mud stains on her.
  • Trouble is it's so hot it's difficult to remove those stubborn stains.
mark, spot, spatter, splatter, blotch, blemish, smudge, smear;
dirt, foxing
1.1A thing that damages or brings disgrace to someone or something’s reputation: he regarded his time in gaol as a stain on his character
More example sentences
  • Fully 18 months after being suspended from duty they can go back to work without a stain on their reputations.
  • That it is largely ignored is a stain on the reputation of those who would have us believe they have the good of the theatre at heart.
  • It is a story of savage in-fighting which has left a bloody stain on the club's reputation.
blemish, injury, taint, blot, blot on one's escutcheon, slur, smear, discredit, dishonour, stigma;
2A penetrative dye or chemical used in colouring a material or object.
Example sentences
  • Now several companies are providing training for stamped concrete, polymer overlays, and chemical stains.
  • They cut borders and pattern lines into the surface to separate different applications of colored chemical stains.
  • Chemical stains and polymer toppings are now being distributed through construction supply houses.
tint, colour, dye, tinge, shade, pigment, colourant;
varnish, paint, colour wash
2.1 Biology A special dye used to colour organic tissue so as to make the structure visible for microscopic examination.
Example sentences
  • Elastic trichrome and trichrome stains of the liver tissue failed to show evidence of fibrosis.
  • A mucicarmine stain of the tissue was focally positive, but no capsular material was identified surrounding the organisms.
  • A cytospin slide was also stained with a Papanicolaou stain and examined in cytology.
2.2 Heraldry Any of the minor colours used in blazoning and liveries, especially tenné and sanguine.
Example sentences
  • Also, the abatements, which, were they in metals or colors, were rare but otherwise not unusual charges, were tinctured in the two stains: sanguine, better known as wine-color or murrey, and tenne or orange.
  • Next among the colours of heraldry are the three stains: tenné, murrey (supposedly a colour associated with mulberries) and sanguine (or blood colour).



Example sentences
  • The diameter of about 83% of the stainable pollen grains ranged between 110 and 140 m; 5% had a smaller diameter and 12% a larger diameter.
  • During cell division, the stainable, inactive DNA appears in the form of threads or rods called chromosomes.
  • He noticed that some material scattered throughout the nucleus heavily absorbed the dye and coined the word chromatin to describe this dark, stainable substance.


Pronunciation: /ˈsteɪnə/
Example sentences
  • A nation of snackers has become a nation of stainers.
  • Boucher grew up near the Hotel de Ville in Paris, in the Rue de Verrerie, which was, as its name suggests, a street inhabited mostly by stainers and other workers in glass.
  • Although water-based sealers and stainers are environmentally friendly, they do not apply well to wood.


Late Middle English (as a verb): shortening of archaic distain, from Old French desteindre 'tinge with a colour different from the natural one'. The noun was first recorded (mid 16th century) in the sense 'defilement, disgrace'.

  • tincture from Late Middle English:

    A tincture was originally a dye or pigment. It comes from Latin tinctura ‘dyeing’, from tingere ‘to dye or colour’. Because dying involves making solutions and extracting active ingredients, it started to be used for a pharmaceutical extract in the late 17th century. The slang sense for ‘an alcoholic drink’ evolved from this in the early 20th century. A number of other words go back to tingere. Tint (early 18th century) was originally tinct, and tinge (late 15th century) comes from the related verb tingere, ‘to colour’. Stain (Late Middle English) goes back to tingere via a shortening of distain, from Old French desteindre ‘tinge with a colour different from the natural one’.

Words that rhyme with stain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: stain

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