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[tawrch] /tɔrtʃ/
a light to be carried in the hand, consisting of some combustible substance, as resinous wood, or of twisted flax or the like soaked with tallow or other flammable substance, ignited at the upper end.
something considered as a source of illumination, enlightenment, guidance, etc.:
the torch of learning.
any of various lamplike devices that produce a hot flame and are used for soldering, burning off paint, etc.
Slang. an arsonist.
Chiefly British. flashlight (def 1).
verb (used without object)
to burn or flare up like a torch.
verb (used with object)
to subject to the flame or light of a torch, as in order to burn, sear, solder, or illuminate.
Slang. to set fire to maliciously, especially in order to collect insurance.
carry the / a torch for, Slang. to be in love with, especially to suffer from unrequited love for:
He still carries a torch for his ex-wife.
Origin of torch1
1250-1300; Middle English torche (noun) < Old French < Vulgar Latin *torca something twisted. See torque
Related forms
torchable, adjective
torchless, adjective
torchlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for carry a torch for


a small portable electric lamp powered by one or more dry batteries US and Canadian word flashlight
a wooden or tow shaft dipped in wax or tallow and set alight
anything regarded as a source of enlightenment, guidance, etc: the torch of evangelism
any apparatus that burns with a hot flame for welding, brazing, or soldering
carry a torch for, to be in love with, esp unrequitedly
put to the torch, to set fire to; burn down: the looted monastery was put to the torch
(transitive) (slang) to set fire to, esp deliberately as an act of arson
Derived Forms
torchlike, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French torche handful of twisted straw, from Vulgar Latin torca (unattested), from Latin torquēre to twist
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for carry a torch for



late 13c., from Old French torche, originally "twisted thing," hence "torch formed of twisted tow dipped in wax," probably from Vulgar Latin *torca, alteration of Late Latin torqua, variant of classical Latin torques "collar of twisted metal," from torquere "to twist" (see thwart). In Britain, also applied to the battery-driven version (in U.S., flashlight). Torch song is 1927 ("My Melancholy Baby," performed by Tommy Lyman, is said to have been the first so called), from carry a torch "suffer an unrequited love" (also 1927), an obscure notion from Broadway slang.



"set fire to," 1931, from torch (n.). Related: Torched; torching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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carry a torch for in Culture

carry a torch for definition

To be infatuated with: “Frank may be engaged to Helen, but I think he still carries a torch for Laura.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for carry a torch for



An arsonist; an incendiary; firebug: If your suspicions are right, the torch will be close by (1938+)


To set a fire deliberately; burn a building: The lumberyard at 12th and C was torched, for the insurance (1931+)

Related Terms

carry the torch

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with carry a torch for

carry a torch for

Also,carry the torch for. Continue to feel the pain of unreciprocated love for, as in Jane has been carrying the torch for Bill for at least a year. The torch in this term alludes to the heat of love or passion. [ 1920s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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