Definition of attaint in English:



[with object]
  • 1historical Subject (someone) to attainder.

    ‘to his lands Henry added the property of several landowners attainted in the course of his reign’
    • ‘Fortescue fought at the battle of Towton and was subsequently attainted by the victorious Edward IV.’
    • ‘After attainting Strafford and repudiating Charles's policies during the 1630s, the Long Parliament had turned its attention to the Church and proposed the abolition of bishops and their replacement by a system of lay commissioners.’
    • ‘Cecil wanted her attainted in Parliament and executed for her alleged part in the Ridolfi plot.’
    • ‘Fisher was deprived, attainted, and beheaded for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII as supreme head of the Church.’
    • ‘Attainders could also do serious damage if they left a power vacuum in a particular region, as occurred in East Anglia when the third duke of Norfolk was attainted by Henry VIII in 1547.’
    • ‘George was attainted in 1477 and murdered in the Tower of London the following year.’
  • 2archaic Affect or infect with disease or corruption.

    ‘even to have kicked an outsider might have been held to attaint the foot’


Middle English (in the sense ‘touch, reach, attain’): from obsolete attaint (adjective), from Old French ataint, ateint, past participle of ateindre ‘bring to justice’ (see attain); influenced in meaning by taint.