AskDefine | Define patina

Dictionary Definition

patina n : a fine coating of oxide on the surface of a metal [also: patinae (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From patina 'dish, pan'


  • a UK /ˈpætɪnə/


  1. (originally) paten, a type of flat dish
  2. The color or incrustation which age gives to -mainly metallic- objects; especially, the green rust which covers works of art such as ancient bronzes, coins and medals.
  3. A green colour, tinted with grey, like that of patina.
    patina colour:   

Related terms


  • Dutch: pateen
  • French: patène
  • Italian: patina
  • Dutch: patina
  • Finnish: patina
  • French: patine
  • German: Patina
  • Japanese: 緑青 (ろくしょう rokushō)
  • Polish: patyna


  1. Of a green colour, tinted with grey, like that of patina.

Derived terms

  • patine, to coat with a patina

See also



From Italian patina, itself from patina 'dish, pan'


  1. The color or incrustation which age gives to works of art; especially, the green oxidation which covers aging coppers bronzes, coins and medals.

Derived terms

  • patineren, to apply this color or a similar 'aged' effect

Extensive Definition

Patina is a coating of various chemical compounds such as oxides or carbonates formed on the surface of metal during exposure to weathering. The green patina that forms naturally on copper and bronze is known as verdigris and consists of copper carbonate. Patina also refers to accumulated changes in surface texture and colour that result from normal use of an object such as a coin or a piece of furniture. Artists and metalworkers often deliberately add patinas as a part of the original design and decoration of art and furniture, or to simulate antiquity in newly-made objects.
Patinas are restricted to exposed surfaces and can flake off. One reason bronze is so highly valued in statuary is that its patina protects or passivates it against further corrosion. This natural patina seldom shows a tendency to flake. Brass is also resistant to corrosion, but it is, in the long run, not as attractive since local pitting shows against the shiny background.
Figuratively, patina can refer to any fading, darkening or other signs of age, which are felt to be natural and/or unavoidable.
The chemical process by which a patina forms is called patination, and a work of art coated by a patina is said to be patinated.
One example of a patina is a green surface texture created by slow chemical alteration of copper, producing a basic carbonate. It can form on pure copper objects as well as alloys which contain copper, such as bronze or brass.
thumb|right|200px|The [[Statue of Liberty gets its green color from the natural patina formed on its copper surface.]]
A wide range of chemicals, both household and commercial, can give a variety of patinas. They are often used by artists as surface embellishments either for color, texture, or both. Patination composition varies with the reacted elements and these will determine the color of the patina. Exposure to chlorides leads to green, while sulfur compounds (such as "liver of sulfur") tend to brown. For artworks patination is deliberately accelerated by heat. Colors range from matte sandstone yellow to deep blues, reds and various blacks, sometimes with the surface sheen enhanced by waxing for artwork displayed indoors.
Patina is also found on slip rings and commutators. This type of patina is formed by corrosion, what elements the air might hold, residue from the wear of the carbon brush and moisture; thus, the patina need special conditions to work as intended.
Patinas can also be found in woks, which form when properly seasoned. The patina on a wok is a dark coating of oils that have been burned onto it to prevent food sticking and to enhance the flavor of the foods cooked in it. Steaming foods or using soap on a wok could damage the patina and possibly allow the wok to rust.
In terms of antiques, "Patina is everything that happens to an object over the course of time. The nick in the leg of a table, a scratch on a table top, the loss of moisture in the paint, the crackling of a finish or a glaze in ceramics, the gentle wear patterns on the edge of a plate. All these things add up to create a softer look, subtle color changes, a character. Patina is built from all the effects, natural and man-made, that create a true antique." - Israel Sack


Further reading

The Colouring, Bronzing and Patination of Metals An excellent reference to recipes and techniques for patinas on non-ferrous metals.
patina in German: Patina
patina in Spanish: Pátina
patina in French: Patine
patina in Hebrew: פטינה
patina in Hungarian: Patina
patina in Dutch: Patina
patina in Japanese: 緑青
patina in Norwegian: Patina
patina in Polish: Patyna
patina in Portuguese: Pátina
patina in Russian: Патина
patina in Swedish: Patina

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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