Also found in: Idioms, Wikipedia.


 (tär-nā′shən) New England & Southern US
The act of damning or the condition of being damned.
Used to express anger or annoyance.

[Alteration (influenced by tarnal) of darnation.]
Word History: The history of the noun and interjection tarnation illustrates a phenomenon called taboo deformation, by which words that can be considered offensive or impolite under some circumstances are made more acceptable or softer-sounding by altering one or more sounds that make up the words. Tarnation appears to be a variant of darnation, itself a taboo deformation of damnation, in the same way that darn is an alteration of damn. Tarnation, however, seems to have been influenced by tarnal!, another mild oath that is derived from the adjective eternal—as used in eternal damnation! for instance. The taboo deformations darn, darnation, and tarnation have been used in New England since the late 1700s.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


a euphemism for damnation
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(tɑrˈneɪ ʃən)
interj., n.
damnation; hell (used as a euphemism).
[1775–85;b. 'tarnal, dial. form of eternal, and damnation]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


(o.f.) [tɑːˈneɪʃən] N (US) (dial) → ¡diablos!
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
While everyone embraced a 10mm single-action with open arms, many wondered why in tarnation would you bring the .40 S&W to the party when there are so many other cool calibers out there?
On our way to the airport, we found ourselves behind buses and jeepneys emitting dark clouds of smoke and wondered how in tarnation did these monstrosities get past the line we were forced to fall in just a few kilometers back?
Why in tarnation did you let my American Handgunner and GUNS Magazine subscriptions lapse?!?
Communism." Previously, she was senior VP, distribution and acquisitions at Wellspring, and sports producing credits including "Keep the Lights On," "The Loneliest Planet," "Tarnation," and "Unknown White Male." "RatPac is a place in which things are always evolving and growing and in which anything seems possible, more so than any other place I've worked," she says.
I couldn't even read my Bible without seeing tarnation and how I'm going to be wiped out at any moment."
The trainer himself made the point that the grey is a different horse when racing prominently, so, what in tarnation happened in the King George?
They discuss depictions of mothers who drink alcohol on Anderson Cooper's show and mommy blogs and books; Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Dara-Lynn Weiss' The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, a Diet; the Facebook page Sanctimommy that makes fun of intensive mothering; portrayals of mothers on Dance Moms, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, Mad Men, Homeland, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, 16 & Pregnant, and The Killing; the portrayal of Renee Davis' mental illness in John Caouette's documentaries Tarnation and Walk Away Renee; news reports about Patricia Krentcil, a woman arrested for child endangerment after bringing her daughter to a tanning booth; and the film Mammoth.
Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation (2003) is also studied in Chapter Four as another instance of a microbudget film with a similar topic and style.
As I'm contemplating how in tarnation I will ever leave my mark on Sarasota, one of my favorite local philanthropists, Betty Schoenba um, appears onscreen.
We have to understand how "the individual" appears in numerous guises, especially in Tarnation, where director Jonathan Carouette is also the protagonist appearing in different roles throughout the action as he examines "a notion of himself during his formative years" (255).