verb (used with object), tanned, tan·ning.

  1. to convert (a hide) into leather, especially by soaking or steeping in a bath prepared from tanbark or synthetically.
  2. to make brown by exposure to ultraviolet rays, as of the sun.
  3. Informal. to thrash; spank.

verb (used without object), tanned, tan·ning.

  1. to become tanned.


  1. the brown color imparted to the skin by exposure to the sun or open air.
  2. yellowish brown; light brown.
  3. tanbark.

adjective, tan·ner, tan·nest.

  1. of the color of tan; yellowish-brown.
  2. used in or relating to tanning processes, materials, etc.


  1. tan someone’s hide, Informal. to beat someone soundly: She threatened to tan our hides if she found us on her property again.


  1. tangent(def 5b).


  1. tax-anticipation note.

pl n

  1. the Tans Irish informal short for the Black and Tans


  1. the brown colour produced by the skin after intensive exposure to ultraviolet rays, esp those of the sun
  2. a light or moderate yellowish-brown colour
  3. short for tanbark

verb tans, tanning or tanned

  1. to go brown or cause to go brown after exposure to ultraviolet raysshe tans easily
  2. to convert (a skin or hide) into leather by treating it with a tanning agent, such as vegetable tannins, chromium salts, fish oils, or formaldehyde
  3. (tr) slang to beat or flog

adjective tanner or tannest

  1. of the colour tantan gloves
  2. used in or relating to tanning

abbreviation for

  1. tangent (sense 2)

v.late Old English tannian “to convert hide into leather” (by steeping it in tannin), from Medieval Latin tannare “tan, dye, a tawny color” (c.900), from tannum “crushed oak bark,” used in tanning leather, probably from a Celtic source (e.g. Breton tann “oak tree”). The meaning “make brown by exposure to the sun” first recorded 1520s. To tan (someone’s) hide in the figurative sense is from 1660s. Related: Tanned; tanning. n.“bronze color imparted to skin by exposure to sun,” 1749, see tan (v.). As a simple name for a brownish color, in any context, it is recorded from 1888. The adjective tan “of the color of tanned leather” is recorded from 1660s.

  1. Abbreviation of tangent
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