2. To colour, as wood, glass, paper, cloth, or the like, by processess affecting, chemically or otherwise, the material itself; to tinge with a colour or colours combining with, or penetrating, the substance; to dye; as, to stain wood with acids, coloured washes, paint rubbed in, etc.; to stain glass.
4. To cause to seem inferior or soiled by comparison. "She stains the ripest virgins of her age." (Beau. & Fl) "That did all other beasts in beauty stain." (Spenser) Stained glass, glass coloured or stained by certain metallic pigments fused into its substance, often used for making ornament windows.
Paint, Stain, Dye. These denote three different processes; the first mechanical, the other two, chiefly chemical. To paint a thing is so spread a coat of colouring matter over it; to stain or dye a thing is to impart colour to its substance. To stain is said chiefly of solids, as wood, glass, paper; to dye, of fibrous substances, textile fabrics, etc.; the one, commonly, a simple process, as applying a wash; the other more complex, as fixing colours by mordants.
Origin: Abbrev. Fr. Distain.
(01 Mar 1998)
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