Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

stain - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     stain pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlestaining
past tensestained
past participlestained
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to leave a mark on something accidentally

    The sink was badly stained.

    be stained with something:

    His fingers were stained with blue ink.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to add colour to wood using a special liquid

    I’m going to stain it a deep red colour.

  3. 3
    [transitive] science to add colour to something in order to make it easier to examine under a microscope
  4. 4
    [transitive] if something stains someone’s reputation, character etc, it spoils it
quiz invitation


a combination of a hotdog and a hamburger in a specially designed bread bun

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a volume of articles, essays, etc., contributed by many authors in honor of a colleague, usually published on the occasion of their retirement, an important anniversary and the like

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play