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 searing

Contemporary Examples of searing

Historical Examples of searing

  • M. le Marquis raised his head, and showed a face that pain was searing.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • The thought was hot in his heart as the searing touch of iron red from the fire.

    The Princess Virginia

    C. N. Williamson

  • They had been baked by the searing heat, baked and charred almost to the ground.

    The Gun

    Philip K. Dick

  • He had none of the mockery which is so searing and blighting a thing to hot youth.

    Mary Gray

    Katharine Tynan

  • They turned left, almost running in the teeth of that searing blast.

    A World is Born

    Leigh Douglass Brackett

British Dictionary definitions for searing



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 searing



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