- 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).
- to burn or flare up like a torch.
- 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
- to point (the joints between roofing slates) with a mixture of lime and hair.
Origin of torch2
Examples from the Web for torches
He took some lengths of pitchy pine sticks and arranged them for torches.Way of the Lawless
At last it grew dark, and torches began to blaze in front of the booths.Buried Cities, Part 2
Finally, by the light of torches and lanterns, we saw that we had arrived.My Double Life
They had torches among them, and the chief faces were distinctly visible.Barnaby Rudge
However, they approached the gap and examined it with their torches.The Heads of Apex
- a small portable electric lamp powered by one or more dry batteriesUS 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, etcthe 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 downthe looted monastery was put to the torch
- (tr) slang to set fire to, esp deliberately as an act of arson
Word Origin and History for torches
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.