1. Informal. something that is highly exciting, impressive, etc.: The All Stars game was a real barnburner.
  2. Chiefly Pennsylvania. a wooden friction match.
  3. (initial capital letter) a member of the progressive faction in the Democratic Party in New York State 1845–52.Compare Hunker.

Origin of barnburner

1835–45, Americanism; barn1 + burner; (def 3) so called with reference to burning down a barn to get rid of rats Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for barn-burner

Contemporary Examples of barn-burner

  • It was a barn-burner, which had the crowd laughing and cheering at his challenges to mainstream media.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Tea Party, Day 2

    John Avlon

    February 6, 2010

Historical Examples of barn-burner

  • The poison has done its work, and there is no employment here for a man suspected of being a barn-burner.

  • Coming from our old home, he tells us the barn-burner has been found, and confessed his crime!