What does distain mean

Distain Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

dis·​tain dis-ˈtān 

transitive verb


archaic : stain


archaic : dishonor


  • befoul
  • begrime
  • bemire
  • besmirch
  • blacken
  • daub
  • dirty
  • foul
  • gaum [dialect]
  • grime
  • mire
  • muck
  • muddy
  • smirch
  • smudge
  • soil
  • stain
  • sully

See all Synonyms & Antonyms in Thesaurus 

Example Sentences

weary soldiers with hands distained with blood

Recent Examples on the Web There are disagreement and distain among tech luminaries about this metaverse thing. —Nina Xiang, Forbes, 27 Apr. 2022 Opinions about Hogan’s response to the crime range from appreciation to distain in the heavily Democratic city, where Hogan’s support among voters in 2018 was 10 percent higher than in 2014. —Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English disteynen, from Anglo-French desteindre to take away the color of, from de- + teindre to dye, from Latin tingere to wet, dye — more at tinge

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler

The first known use of distain was in the 14th century

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“Distain.Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distain. Accessed 24 Dec. 2022.

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Distain Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.

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[ dih-steyn ]

/ dɪˈsteɪn /

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verb (used with object) Archaic.

to discolor; stain; sully.



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Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of distain

1350–1400; Middle English desteignen<Anglo-French, Middle French desteign-, stem of desteindre, equivalent to des-dis-1 + teindre<Latin tingere to dye, tinge

Words nearby distain

dist. , distad, distaff, distaffer, distaff side, distain, distal, distance, distance learning, distance medley, distance modulus

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does

distain mean?

Distain is a misspelling of disdain, but it’s also an archaic word that means to stain or discolor something.

Distain is archaic, meaning it was once in common use but is now used very rarely. You’re most likely to see distain as a misspelling of the word disdain (which can be pronounced exactly the same as distain). To disdain something is to despise it.

Example: “I distain white tablecloths,” said the red wine disdainfully.

Where does 

distain come from?

The first records of distain come from the 1300s, when it meant “to stain or dye something with a different color.Distain comes from French, from the word desteindre, which is based on the prefix dis-, meaning “apart” or “away,” and the Latin word tingere, meaning “to dye or paint.” (This is also the source of the word tinge). Distain’s modern synonym, stain, may come from the same roots and may simply be a shortening of distain.

By the 1400s, distain was being used to describe metaphorical stains or defilement, such as to a person’s honor or a holy site. Distain was used in this way by Shakespeare (“The worthiness of praise distains his worth”). And it was used in this sense and others by big literary figures like Geoffrey Chaucer, Chrisopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and Robert Burns.

But its use declined by the 1900s, probably because it’s easier to say stain, which can also be used in both a literal and metaphorical sense.

Did you know ... ?

How is 

distain used in real life?

Distain is considered an archaic word and the word stain has essentially replaced it. Distain often appears as a misspelling of the word disdain.

distain => disdain (distain is archaic for stain or dishonor)

My biggest vocabulary builder is looking up words to learn why Word's spell checker hasn't flagged them. #amediting

— James Gallagher (@CastleWallsEdit) August 28, 2019

Try using 


Is distain used correctly in the following sentence?

By the war’s end, our armor and our souls had been distained by the filth of a dozen battles.

How to use distain in a sentence

  • "All's the better for them to hide in," the old woman was continuing, her face a brazen mixture of distain and contempt.

    The Land of Look Behind|Paul Cameron Brown

  • So 1684; but 'Disdain'd' may be a misprint for 'Distain'd' (outshone).

    The Works of Aphra Behn, Volume VI|Aphra Behn

  • To pardon or parley with rebels he thought would distain his honour.

    Henry VIII.|A. F. Pollard

Disgust - Psychologos

October 01, 2022, 21:40

Disgust is a feeling that can arise when seeing (feeling) disgusting and disgusting.

The feeling of disgust at the sight of something ugly and disgusting may not arise if a person, for example, is not inclined to experience in principle or does not like this particular emotion. I saw something disgusting - I removed it, if possible, and that's it.

A feeling of disgust can also arise without one's own ugly and disgusting: a person can first create a feeling of disgust for himself, and then we will see everything that he wants to call "disgusting" just as ugly and disgusting. nine0003

Also referred to as "disgust"

People often talk about disgust when they mean something completely different.

It is not uncommon to call something disgusting that is actually just scary, and it does not matter whether it is justified or not.

Touching some insects is also "disgusting", but in fact it's just plain scary. What if it bites?

The nature of the feeling of disgust

In connection with what did the feeling of disgust form in biological history? Perhaps the roots are different. nine0003

One of the possible explanations is that the gag reflex was developed to something that was harmful to enter the body.

Disgusting - and goes back.

Another possible reason is the feeling of disgust as a form of fear that protects against dangerous things.

Cadaverous smell is disgusting - perhaps this is because cadaveric poison is one of the strongest, and there is something to be afraid of. To care for the sick... There is also fear at the level of instinct, because some diseases are actually contagious (and you cannot explain to instinct what exactly a person is ill with and what the nature of this disease is). nine0003

Disgust is a sense of survival, just like pain or fear. For medieval squeamishness, Europe paid with thousands of deaths from plague and cholera, and for the industrial expansion of cities - with millions of deaths from typhus and smallpox. Therefore, the ideal of purity is fixed in any urban culture, majestic and shining, like the snowy peak of Everest, which the mistress of the house is destined to conquer every free minute, damn it ...

Feeling of disgust in ontogeny

The reaction of disgust to some (only some!) smells and objects is apparently innate. At the same time, the feeling of disgust, it seems, is not innate ... See Innate emotions and Feeling of disgust in ontogeny

The meaning of the feeling of disgust

At a certain stage of development, while it is difficult to access the child's mind, the control of his behavior and the formation of his attitudes towards unattractive things and actions is quite successfully solved through the formation of a feeling of disgust. In this sense, we can say that a developed personality must necessarily have a natural (that is, deeply educated) aversion to some things that are unacceptable in human society: from physical uncleanliness to moral uncleanliness. nine0003

On the other hand, with the development of positive thinking and the formation of conscious values, a person needs less and less disgust. It is successfully replaced by other, more positive feelings, and simply an effective, rather than an emotional attitude to life. We do what we need and love what is worthy.

In this case, disgust does not disappear, it simply becomes of little demand.

Why do people create a feeling of disgust for themselves and experience it

People do not always create a feeling of disgust for themselves, sometimes it comes by itself, as an unconditioned reflex. But more often people create it, although not necessarily consciously, and sometimes just out of habit. What for? For a variety of tasks. For example,

  • to experience a sense of superiority over someone, more of course low and nasty,
  • to get revenge on someone and show how disgusting he is,
  • not to do something unpleasant. After all, if the thing is absolutely disgusting, then how can you do it? (and to whom to do this unpleasant, but necessary thing - the question is not raised. And it will be done by those who did not create a feeling of disgust for themselves). nine0050
  • and someone creates it in order to do an unpleasant thing just faster.

If the matter is unpleasant, a person often tends to put it off, "forget" doing something more pleasant. And if you unwind yourself that the current situation is disgusting, then it will beat on the feelings, it will not be forgotten, and the job will be done.

How people create disgust for themselves

Disgust is an unpleasant feeling, yet people regularly create it for themselves. As a rule, two things are enough for this: nine0003

  1. the conviction that a given person or thing is disgusting (with some imagination and flexibility of the intellect, it is easy to do), and
  2. face expressing disgust (first of all, the lips are stretched to the side and pressed inward).

It is easier to create disgust for yourself for those who are accustomed to seeing the disgusting in everything and often use starter words that trigger the experience of disgust. See article Disgusting.

How not to be disgusted


  • keep a calm, neutral expression,
  • keep calm breathing
  • and do not fix special attention on what you are doing (do not create a negative fairy tale),

it is possible to be near the most disgusting smells, pictures and kinesthetic sensations without experiencing a feeling of disgust. So you can clean up after a seriously bedridden patient, put things in order where everything has long rotted away, and solve other everyday problems. nine0003

  • Emotional actions and reactions
  • Feeling
  • Emotions in human life

Comments (12):

Guest, May 17, 2016, 08:50

Quite useful. Thanks to.

Guest, June 27, 2017 at 00:02

Hello! I have a friend who is squeamish about eating in public canteens or drinking from the same bottle as mom and dad. In a company on a walk, we usually buy large bottles of water and we can calmly drink from the throat, but she can’t even look at it. At home, she has a separate spoon, fork, plate and mug. How can you understand it? Is it a mental illness or is this a way to attract attention to yourself? nine0003



Kozlov Nikolay Ivanovich, June 27, 2017, 05:42

A well-bred person does not behave like this.



Guest, July 03, 2017, 10:51 AM

A colleague washed his hands continuously and never ate with us. But she blew her nose in the kitchen sink. The above example: in my opinion, a painful oddity. nine0003

Guest, April 18, 2019 03:21 AM

If a person does not want to drink from your cup, and this disgusts him, then this person is simply CLEAN.

Guest, November 07, 2020, 06:18 PM

Or maybe just disgust? It is unpleasant to drink after someone from a bottle, if you'll excuse me, the neck smells unpleasantly of other people's saliva.

Guest, July 03, 2017, 07:12

Remember the basic rules of hygiene. Drinking from one bottle is simply not hygienic. What prevents you from buying each individual bottle of water? At least for those reasons that it is inconvenient to drink from a large one. And really, don't make life difficult. Immediately labels hung on a friend "mental illness", "attracting attention." She's just like that and that's it. I think you also have some habits that some people find not quite acceptable, but for you they are completely normal. nine0003



Guest, August 07, 2018 at 11:56 am

I fully support your opinion! I couldn't drink from a bottle after someone either. And even with my child, if such circumstances, I give him a drink first and only then I drink myself, so that he does not have to drink after me. I consider it just a hygienic need. And I couldn’t put on other people’s things, wear someone’s shoes, and if I also know how they wash spoons / forks in public catering places, then it’s very understandable why I prefer not to go to eat there. And because of my acute sensitivity to smells, I don’t ride in old-style public transport, where there are greasy seats, where passengers hang one on top of the other like sprats in a tin, and of course the smells of sweat and dirty socks of working men ...



Guest, November 20, 2019, 10:00

and everyone should not blow their nose in the sink (there is a handkerchief for this), etc. Most often, I try to ignore the little things if the person does not impose his requirements, or does not interfere with others.

Guest, January 07, 2020, 20:24

Hello! All my life I have been interested in the question of what is wrong with me, like with all women. It is unpleasant, even disgusting, for me to even just touch jewelry with my hands, especially with stones. That's why I never wear anything. As a child, I was disgusted by men dressed as women and especially those wearing jewelry. What is it?

Guest, March 11, 2020, 02:18 AM

Hello. For a long time I have been haunted by a feeling of disgust for all material things and not only material ones. It's pretty hard to explain properly. No, I don't mind touching material things. I just feel disgust for them. Or take VK publics as an example, I don’t feel disgusted by all the posts, etc., but after trying myself as an admin, I felt disgusting, as if I was doing something that really disgusted me. It's like this with material things, it's just a lot harder to explain how I feel. nine0003

Guest, May 08, 2020 4:27 PM

The last paragraph is great! It also helps a lot when communicating with the former at meetings (a common child, cannot be avoided). But these 3 things worked out on my own in 2-3 months. I read it and smiled.

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Disgust | it's... What is disgust?


  • nine0191

Disgust. [...] an important role in the grouping of word combinations, in their classification and in the ways of their construction is also played by the actual semantic conditions [...].

To characterize the development of this type of phrases, as an illustration, one can point to historical changes in the syntactic connections of the word disgust. Pushkin - along with the design disgust for someone - we find disgust from someone-something , for example, in "Peter the Great's Moor": "Her father, despite his disgust with everything overseas , could not resist her desire to learn German dances from a captured Swedish officer"; “No,” replied Ibrahim, “I am marrying, of course, not out of passion, but out of consideration, and then, if she does not have from me resolute disgust » . In the academic "Dictionary of the Church Slavonic and Russian Language" of 1847, when interpreting the word aversion the following example is given: " have an aversion to food " . Therefore, in the 40s of the XIX century. in the Russian literary language, the combination of the word disgust with the preposition from and the genitive form of the noun was still dominant. But since the middle of the XIX century. the position is changing. Curious are the notes of Y. K. Grot dating back to the 60-70s in defense of the design disgust for someone (Notes are stored in the Archives of the USSR Academy of Sciences): “Can a feeling, whether it be positive or negative, have any - any other relation, except to anything? Is it possible to feel anything from a person or from an object in the sense we are talking about here? Disgust is the same feeling as love or attraction, and must certainly be towards someone or something. When we say: I have disgust , then we mean: feeling disgust , - there is an explicit relation of one object or creature to another: to show this relationship, the preposition to is required." The range of relational nouns combined with other words by means of the preposition to and the dative case is growing (cf. , feeling for someone , etc.).

(Issues of studying the phrase (On the material of the Russian language) // Vinogradov.

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