Origin of sear

before 900; (adj.) Middle English sere, Old English sēar; cognate with Dutch zoor; (v.) Middle English seren, Old English sēarian, derivative of sēar
Related formsun·seared, adjective

Synonym study

1. See burn1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for seared

Contemporary Examples of seared

Historical Examples of seared

  • Some scenes have been so seared into my brain that I can never forget them.

  • Unless something happened, and that quickly, they would be seared to a crisp.

    Pirates of the Gorm

    Nat Schachner

  • They seared her very soul, and she began to know the meaning of shame.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • His face looked grey and haggard; the lines that seared it were lines of pain.

  • A wave of Mercurians surged in, to be seared into nothingness by his weapon.

British Dictionary definitions for seared



verb (tr)

to scorch or burn the surface of
to brand with a hot iron
to cause to wither or dry up
rare to make callous or unfeeling


a mark caused by searing


poetic dried up

Word Origin for sear

Old English sēarian to become withered, from sēar withered; related to Old High German sōrēn, Greek hauos dry, Sanskrit sōsa drought




the catch in the lock of a small firearm that holds the hammer or firing pin cocked

Word Origin for sear

C16: probably from Old French serre a clasp, from serrer to hold firmly, from Late Latin sērāre to bolt, from Latin sera a bar
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

Word Origin and History for seared



Old English searian (intransitive) "dry up, to wither," from Proto-Germanic *saurajan (cf. Middle Dutch soor "dry," Old High German soren "become dry"), from root of sear "dried up, withered" (see sere). Meaning "cause to wither" is from early 15c. Meaning "to brand, to burn by hot iron" is recorded from c.1400, originally especially of cauterizing wounds; figurative use is from 1580s. Related: Seared; searing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper