Meaning of tarnation in English:


Pronunciation /tɑːˈneɪʃ(ə)n/


dated, humorous North American
  • Used to express exasperation, frustration, or incredulity.

    ‘Tarnation! If Teddy had been elected we'd never have come to this!’
    • ‘I'll tell you what's wrong with my car - it's the worst darn heap of scrap metal this side of tarnation!’
    • ‘We went down yonder to the cement pond and I fell on a pretzel, tarnation!’
    • ‘What in tarnation were you yelling about Juliet!’
    • ‘"What in tarnation…" I whispered to myself, and I began to move to follow him, but then he was gone.’
    • ‘"How stupid does he think we are" comes to mind as does " Why in tarnation didn't one of us think of that?"’
    • ‘And, holy tarnation, to get to the town of Wayne you gotta cross eleven bridges and be able to spit directly upon a scorpion from high atop yer horse.’
    • ‘You stand in the way of a swarm of bats and you can expect to get horsewhipped to tarnation, boy!’
    • ‘He barely waited for them to dismount before he yelled in anger, "Where in tarnation have you two been?"’
    • ‘"What in tarnation are you doin' and who are you!?"’
    • ‘What in tarnation are you talking about Kelley?’
    • ‘I don't need to drag all around tarnation to do that!’
    • ‘In a cold rasp, he said, "What in tarnation are you a-doing down there?"’
    • ‘Perplexed by what he sees, he says out loud, "What in tarnation is it?"’
    • ‘Son, I don't know what in tarnation you're talking about.’
    • ‘Well, what in tarnation are you doing here, Jewelweed?’
    • ‘But who in tarnation would believe him and Olaf if they told what they'd seen lying dead in the meadow?’
    • ‘Also included is a full frame version of the film, though why in tarnation would anyone want to watch that?’
    • ‘How in tarnation could they make a movie that appeals to kids so much and also appeal to adults so much too, simultaneously.’
    • ‘Just what in tarnation is it that you girls want to do?’
    damn, damnation, blast, hell, heck, Gordon Bennett


    in tarnation
    North American dated, humorous
    • Used for emphasis to express exasperation, frustration, or incredulity.

      ‘what in tarnation is going on over here?’
      • ‘why in tarnation do you need to know where I live?’


Late 18th century alteration of damnation.