[ burn ]
See synonyms for: burnburnedburningburnt on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object),burned or burnt, burn·ing.
  1. to undergo rapid combustion or consume fuel in such a way as to give off heat, gases, and, usually, light; be on fire: The fire burned in the grate.

  2. (of a fireplace, furnace, etc.) to contain a fire.

  1. to feel heat or a physiologically similar sensation; feel pain from or as if from a fire: The wound burned and throbbed.

  2. to give off light or to glow brightly: The lights in the house burned all night.

  3. to give off heat or be hot: The pavement burned in the noon sun.

  4. to produce pain or a stinging sensation similar to that of fire; cause to smart: The whiskey burned in his throat.

  5. to feel extreme anger: When she said I was rude, I really burned.

  6. to feel strong emotion or passion: He burned with desire.

  7. Chemistry.

    • to undergo combustion, either fast or slow; oxidize.

    • to undergo fission or fusion.

  8. to become charred or overcooked by heat: The steak burned around the edges.

  9. to receive a sunburn: She burns easily and has to stay in the shade.

  10. to be punished or executed by fire: You'll burn in hell for that sin.

  11. to be engraved by or as if by burning: His words burned into her heart.

  12. Slang. to die in an electric chair: The murderer was sentenced to burn.

  13. Games. to be extremely close to finding a concealed object or guessing an answer.

verb (used with object),burned or burnt, burn·ing.
  1. to cause to undergo combustion or be consumed partly or wholly by fire.

  2. to use as fuel or as a source of light: He burned coal to heat the house.

  1. to cause to feel the sensation of heat.

  2. to overcook or char: I almost burned the roast.

  3. to sunburn.

  4. to injure, endanger, or damage with or as if with fire: Look out, you'll burn yourself!

  5. to execute by burning: The heretic was burned at the stake.

  6. to subject to fire or treat with heat as a process of manufacturing.

  7. to produce with or as if with fire: She burned a hole in her dress.

  8. to cause sharp pain or a stinging sensation: The iodine burned his cut.

  9. to consume rapidly, especially to squander: He burned energy as if he never heard of resting.

  10. Slang. to suffer losses or be disillusioned in business or social relationships: She was burned by that phony stock deal.

  11. Slang. to cheat or rob.

  12. Slang. to insult in a way that is especially perceptive and therefore especially harsh and humiliating: You just got burned by a seven year old—the kid calls it as she sees it!

  13. Digital Technology. to copy or write data to (an optical disk): She burned a CD of their favorite songs.: Compare rip1 (def. 4).

  14. Chemistry. to cause to undergo combustion; oxidize.

  15. Machinery. to damage through excessive friction, as in grinding or machining; scorch.

  16. Metallurgy. to oxidize (a steel ingot), as with a flame.

  17. British. to scald (a wine, especially sherry) in an iron container over a fire.

  18. Cards. to put (a played or rejected card) face up at the bottom of the pack.

  19. Slang. to disclose the identity of (an undercover agent, law officer, etc.): to burn a narcotics officer.

  1. a burned place or area: a burn where fire had ripped through the forest.

  2. Pathology. an injury usually caused by heat but also by abnormal cold, chemicals, poison gas, electricity, or lightning, and characterized by a painful reddening and swelling of the epidermis (first-degree burn ), damage extending into the dermis, usually with blistering (second-degree burn ), or destruction of the epidermis and dermis extending into the deeper tissue with loss of pain receptors (third-degree burn ).

  1. the process or an instance of burning or baking, as in brickmaking.

  2. a forest or brush fire.

  3. the firing of a rocket engine.

  4. Usually the burn . a burning sensation felt in the muscles during intense exercise: Repeat the sit-ups till you feel the burn in your lower abs.

  5. Slang. a swindle.

  6. Slang. an especially harsh and humiliating insult or put-down, often delivered in the presence of others:Ooh, sick burn, bruh! His ego must need first aid after that burn.

Verb Phrases
  1. burn down, to burn to the ground: That barn was struck by lightning and burned down.

  2. burn in, Photography. (in printing) to expose (one part of an image) to more light by masking the other parts in order to darken and give greater detail to the unmasked area.: Also print in. Compare dodge (def. 2).

  1. burn off, (of morning mist) to be dissipated by the warmth of the rising sun.

  2. burn on, to weld lead with lead.

  3. burn one up, Informal. to incite to anger: That attitude burns me up.

  4. burn out,

    • to cease functioning because something has been exhausted or burned up, as fuel or a filament: Our light bulbs burned out.

    • to deprive of a place to live, work, etc., by reason of fire: They were burned out and had to live with relatives.

    • to wear out; exhaust; be worn out; become exhausted.

  5. burn up,

    • to burn completely or utterly: The papers burned up in a minute.

    • Informal. to become angry: He burns up at the mention of her name.

Idioms about burn

  1. burn one's bridges (behind one). bridge1 (def. 27).

  2. burn oneself out, to exhaust one's energy, ideas, etc., through overwork or intemperance: They feared that he would burn himself out or break down.

  1. burn the midnight oil, to work, study, etc., until late at night: to burn the midnight oil before final exams.

  2. burn the / one's candle at both ends, to be excessively active or immoderate, as by leading an active social life by night and a busy work life by day: You can't burn the candle at both ends and hold onto a job.

Origin of burn

First recorded before 900; Middle English bernen, brennen, Old English beornan (intransitive), (cognate with Gothic, Old High German brinnan ), and Old English bærnan (transitive), (cognate with Gothic brannjan, Old High German brennen )

synonym study For burn

16. Burn, scorch, sear, singe refer to the effect of fire or heat. To burn is to consume, wholly or in part, by contact with fire or excessive heat: to burn leaves. Scorch implies superficial or slight burning, resulting in a change of color or in injury to the texture because of shriveling or curling: to scorch a dress while ironing. Sear refers especially to the drying or hardening caused by heat: to sear a roast of meat. Singe applies especially to a superficial burning that takes off ends or projections: to singe hair; singe the pinfeathers from a chicken.

Other words for burn

Other words from burn

  • burn·a·ble, adjective
  • half-burned, adjective
  • non·burn·a·ble, adjective
  • un·burn·a·ble, adjective
  • un·burned, adjective
  • well-burned, adjective

Words Nearby burn

Other definitions for burn (2 of 2)

[ burn ]

nounScot. and North England.
  1. a brook or rivulet.

Origin of burn

First recorded before 900; Middle English burn(e), bourn(e), Old English burna, burne “stream, brook”; cognate with Gothic brunna, Dutch born, bron, German Brunnen, Old Norse brunnr “spring, well”

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use burn in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for burn (1 of 2)


/ (bɜːn) /

verbburns, burning, burnt or burned
  1. to undergo or cause to undergo combustion

  2. to destroy or be destroyed by fire

  1. (tr) to damage, injure, or mark by heat: he burnt his hand; she was burnt by the sun

  2. to die or put to death by fire: to burn at the stake

  3. (intr) to be or feel hot: my forehead burns

  4. to smart or cause to smart: brandy burns one's throat

  5. (intr) to feel strong emotion, esp anger or passion

  6. (tr) to use for the purposes of light, heat, or power: to burn coal

  7. (tr) to form by or as if by fire: to burn a hole

  8. to char or become charred: the potatoes are burning in the saucepan

  9. (tr) to brand or cauterize

  10. (tr) to cut (metal) with an oxygen-rich flame

  11. to produce by or subject to heat as part of a process: to burn charcoal

  12. (tr) to copy information onto (a CD-ROM)

  13. astronomy to convert (a lighter element) to a heavier one by nuclear fusion in a star: to burn hydrogen

  14. cards, mainly British to discard or exchange (one or more useless cards)

  15. (tr; usually passive) informal to cheat, esp financially

  16. slang, mainly US to electrocute or be electrocuted

  17. (tr) Australian slang to drive fast (esp in the phrase go for a burn)

  18. burn one's bridges or burn one's boats to commit oneself to a particular course of action with no possibility of turning back

  19. burn the candle at both ends See candle (def. 3)

  20. burn one's fingers to suffer from having meddled or been rash

  1. an injury caused by exposure to heat, electrical, chemical, or radioactive agents. Burns are classified according to the depth of tissue affected: first-degree burn : skin surface painful and red; second-degree burn : blisters appear on the skin; third-degree burn : destruction of both epidermis and dermis

  2. a mark, e.g. on wood, caused by burning

  1. a controlled use of rocket propellant, esp for a course correction

  2. a hot painful sensation in a muscle, experienced during vigorous exercise: go for the burn!

  3. Australian and NZ a controlled fire to clear an area of scrub

  4. slang tobacco or a cigarette

Origin of burn

Old English beornan (intr), bærnan (tr); related to Old Norse brenna (tr or intr), Gothic brinnan (intr), Latin fervēre to boil, seethe

British Dictionary definitions for burn (2 of 2)


/ (bɜːn, Scottish bʌrn) /

  1. Scot and Northern English a small stream; brook

Origin of burn

Old English burna; related to Old Norse brunnr spring, Old High German brunno, Lithuanian briáutis to burst forth

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

Scientific definitions for burn


[ bûrn ]

  1. To be on fire; undergo combustion. A substance burns if it is heated up enough to react chemically with oxygen.

  2. To cause a burn to a bodily tissue.

  1. Tissue injury caused by fire, heat, radiation (such as sun exposure), electricity, or a caustic chemical agent. Burns are classified according to the degree of tissue damage, which can include redness, blisters, skin edema and loss of sensation. Bacterial infection is a serious and sometimes fatal complication of severe burns.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with burn


In addition to the idioms beginning with burn

  • burn at the stake
  • burn down
  • burned up
  • burn in effigy
  • burning question
  • burn into
  • burn off
  • burn one's bridges
  • burn oneself out
  • burn one's fingers
  • burn out
  • burn rubber
  • burn someone up
  • burn the candle at both ends
  • burn the midnight oil
  • burn to a cinder
  • burn up

also see:

  • crash and burn
  • ears are burning
  • fiddle while Rome burns
  • (burn) in effigy
  • money burns a hole in one's pocket
  • money to burn
  • slow burn

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.