What does varnish mean?

Definitions for varnish
ˈvɑr nɪʃvar·nish

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word varnish.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. varnishverb

    a coating that provides a hard, lustrous, transparent finish to a surface

  2. varnish, sealverb

    cover with varnish


  1. varnishnoun

    A type of paint with a solvent that evaporates to leave a hard, transparent, glossy film.

  2. varnishnoun

    Anything resembling such a paint.

  3. varnishnoun

    By extension: A deceptively showy appearance.

  4. varnishverb

    To apply varnish.

  5. varnishverb

    To cover up with varnish.

  6. varnishverb

    To gloss over a defect.

  7. Etymology: vernis, from origin.


  1. Varnish

    Varnish is a clear transparent hard protective coating or film. It is not a stain. It usually has a yellowish shade from the manufacturing process and materials used, but it may also be pigmented as desired, and is sold commercially in various shades. Varnish is primarily used as a wood finish where, stained or not, the distinctive tones and grains in the wood are intended to be visible. Varnish finishes are naturally glossy, but satin/semi-gloss and flat sheens are available.


  1. varnish

    Varnish is a clear, protective finish or film primarily used in wood finishing to enhance its durability and appearance. It is composed of a resin, a drying oil, and a solvent or thinner. It provides a glossy or satin finish, protects the wood from damage such as scratches or water stains, and can also prevent damage from UV light. Apart from wood, varnish can also be used on other materials.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Varnishnoun

    a viscid liquid, consisting of a solution of resinous matter in an oil or a volatile liquid, laid on work with a brush, or otherwise. When applied the varnish soon dries, either by evaporation or chemical action, and the resinous part forms thus a smooth, hard surface, with a beautiful gloss, capable of resisting, to a greater or less degree, the influences of air and moisture

  2. Varnishnoun

    that which resembles varnish, either naturally or artificially; a glossy appearance

  3. Varnishnoun

    an artificial covering to give a fair appearance to any act or conduct; outside show; gloss

  4. Varnishnoun

    to lay varnish on; to cover with a liquid which produces, when dry, a hard, glossy surface; as, to varnish a table; to varnish a painting

  5. Varnishnoun

    to cover or conceal with something that gives a fair appearance; to give a fair coloring to by words; to gloss over; to palliate; as, to varnish guilt

  6. Etymology: [OE. vernish, F. vernis, LL. vernicium; akin to F. vernir to varnish, fr. (assumed) LL. vitrinire to glaze, from LL. vitrinus glassy, fr. L. vitrum glass. See Vitreous.]


  1. Varnish

    Varnish is a transparent, hard, protective finish or film primarily used in wood finishing but also for other materials. Varnish is traditionally a combination of a drying oil, a resin, and a thinner or solvent. Varnish finishes are usually glossy but may be designed to produce satin or semi-gloss sheens by the addition of "flatting" agents. Varnish has little or no colour, is transparent, and has no added pigment, as opposed to paints or wood stains, which contain pigment and generally range from opaque to translucent. Varnishes are also applied over wood stains as a final step to achieve a film for gloss and protection. Some products are marketed as a combined stain and varnish. After being applied, the film-forming substances in varnishes either harden directly, as soon as the solvent has fully evaporated, or harden after evaporation of the solvent through certain curing processes, primarily chemical reaction between oils and oxygen from the air and chemical reactions between components of the varnish. Resin varnishes "dry" by evaporation of the solvent and harden almost immediately upon drying. Acrylic and waterborne varnishes "dry" upon evaporation of the water but experience an extended curing period. Oil, polyurethane, and epoxy varnishes remain liquid even after evaporation of the solvent but quickly begin to cure, undergoing successive stages from liquid or syrupy, to tacky or sticky, to dry gummy, to "dry to the touch", to hard. Environmental factors such as heat and humidity play a very large role in the drying and curing times of varnishes. In classic varnish the cure rate depends on the type of oil used and, to some extent, on the ratio of oil to resin. The drying and curing time of all varnishes may be sped up by exposure to an energy source such as sunlight, ultraviolet light, or heat. Many varnishes rely on organic oils or resins for their binder in combination with organic solvents; these are highly flammable in their liquid state. In addition, all drying oils, certain alkyds, and many single-component polyurethanes produce heat during the curing process. Therefore, oil-soaked rags and paper can smolder and ignite hours after use if they are bunched or piled together, or, for example, placed in a container where the heat cannot dissipate.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Varnish

    vär′nish, v.t. to cover with a liquid so as to give a glossy surface to: to give a fair appearance to.—n. a sticky liquid which dries and forms a hard, lustrous coating: a glossy, lustrous appearance: any gloss or palliation.—ns. Var′nisher; Var′nishing; Var′nishing-day, a day before the opening of a picture exhibition when exhibitors may varnish or retouch their pictures after they have been hung; Var′nish-tree, a name given to trees of several distinct natural orders, the resinous juice of which is used for varnishing or for lacquering. [Fr. vernis—Low L. vitrinus, glassy—L. vitrum, glass.]

The Standard Electrical Dictionary

  1. Varnish

    A glossy transparent coating of the nature of paint, applied as a protective, or ornamental coating to objects.

Matched Categories

Anagrams for varnish »

  1. hrivnas

  2. shirvan

How to pronounce varnish?

How to say varnish in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of varnish in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of varnish in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of varnish in a Sentence

  1. Helen Strudwick:

    The fingerprints were left by craftsmen who made a mistake and touched it before the varnish dried, the discovery was made in 2005, but has not been publicized so far.

  2. Anders Fogh Rasmussen:

    I am very much aware, almost painfully aware, about what you call my credibility, that my varnish is scratched. And no one is more sorry about it than myself.

  3. National Gallery:

    The painting was removed from the wall to be examined by our conservation team, ‘The Hay Wain’ suffered minor damage to its frame and there was also some disruption to the surface of the varnish on the painting — both of which have now been successfully dealt with.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for varnish

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for varnish »


Find a translation for the varnish definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"varnish." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 2 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/varnish>.

Discuss these varnish definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for varnish? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Image or illustration of


    Credit »

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    warn strongly; put on guard
    • A. caddie
    • B. suffuse
    • C. monish
    • D. exacerbate

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for varnish: