See also: bùrn


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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English bernen, birnen, from Old English byrnan, beornan ‎(to burn), metathesis from Proto-Germanic *brinnaną ‎(to burn), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrenw- (compare Middle Irish brennim ‎(drink up), bruinnim ‎(bubble up)), present stem from *bʰreu-, *bʰru- (compare Middle Irish bréo ‎(flame), Albanian burth ‎(Cyclamen europaeum, mouth burning), Sanskrit भुरति ‎(bhurati, moves quickly, twitches, fidgets)). More at brew.


burn ‎(plural burns)

Examples (act of burning)
  1. A physical injury caused by heat or cold or electricity or radiation or caustic chemicals.
    She had second-degree burns from falling in the bonfire.
  2. A sensation resembling such an injury.
    chili burn from eating hot peppers
  3. The act of burning something.
    They're doing a controlled burn of the fields.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, Internal Combustion[1]:
      One typical Grecian kiln engorged one thousand muleloads of juniper wood in a single burn.
  4. Physical sensation in the muscles following strenuous exercise, caused by build-up of lactic acid.
    One and, two and, keep moving; feel the burn!
  5. (slang) An intense non-physical sting, as left by an effective insult.
  6. (Britain, chiefly prison slang) tobacco
    • 2002, Tom Wickham, “A Day In The Wrong Life”, in Julian Broadhead, Laura Kerr, editor, Prison Writing[2], Sixteenth Edition edition, Waterside Press, ISBN 9781872870403, page 26:
      TOM: I’m serious bruv. Put my burn and lighter and all that in my jeans please and give them here, then press the cell bell.
    • 2006, S. Drake, A Cry for Help[3], Chipmunkapublishing ltd, ISBN 9781847470010, Chapter 7, page 94:
      “Any of you want to borrow some burn,” asked a scarred inmate known as Bull.
    • 2006, Peter Squires, editor, Community Safety: Critical Perspectives on Policy and Practice[4], Policy Press, ISBN 9781861347305 1861347308, page 23:
      It was like no one was looking out for me, and the older kids used to take the piss ...they were always threatening me and taking my burn [tobacco] []
    • 2010, Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles:
      As the prison week ended and the less careful inmates began to run out of burn they went through a peculiar begging ritual that I, never one to husband resources either, was quick to learn.
  7. The operation or result of burning or baking, as in brickmaking.
    They have a good burn.
  8. A disease in vegetables; brand.
  9. An effective insult.
Derived termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


burn ‎(third-person singular simple present burns, present participle burning, simple past and past participle burned or (mostly Commonwealth) burnt)

  1. (intransitive) To be consumed by fire, or at least in flames.
    He watched the house burn.
    • 2013 July 20, “Welcome to the plastisphere”, The Economist, volume 408, number 8845: 
      Plastics are energy-rich substances, which is why many of them burn so readily. Any organism that could unlock and use that energy would do well in the Anthropocene. Terrestrial bacteria and fungi which can manage this trick are already familiar to experts in the field.
  2. (intransitive) To become overheated to the point of being unusable.
    The grill was too hot and the steak was burned.
  3. (intransitive) To feel hot, e.g. due to embarrassment.
    The child's forehead was burning with fever.  Her cheeks burned with shame.
  4. (intransitive) To sunburn.
    She forgot to put on sunscreen and burned.
  5. (intransitive, curling) To accidentally touch a moving stone.
  6. (transitive, ergative) To cause to be consumed by fire.
    He burned his manuscript in the fireplace.
    • 2013 June 29, “Unspontaneous combustion”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 29: 
      Since the mid-1980s, when Indonesia first began to clear its bountiful forests on an industrial scale in favour of lucrative palm-oil plantations, “haze” has become an almost annual occurrence in South-East Asia. The cheapest way to clear logged woodland is to burn it, producing an acrid cloud of foul white smoke that, carried by the wind, can cover hundreds, or even thousands, of square miles.
  7. (transitive, ergative) To overheat so as to make unusable.
    He burned the toast.
    • 1879, Richard Jefferies, The Amateur Poacher, chapter1:
      They burned the old gun that used to stand in the dark corner up in the garret, close to the stuffed fox that always grinned so fiercely. Perhaps the reason why he seemed in such a ghastly rage was that he did not come by his death fairly. Otherwise his pelt would not have been so perfect.
  8. (transitive) To injure (a person or animal) with heat or caustic chemicals.
    She burned the child with an iron, and was jailed for ten years.
  9. (transitive) To make or produce by the application of fire or burning heat.
    to burn a hole;  to burn letters into a block
  10. (transitive) To consume, injure, or change the condition of, as if by action of fire or heat; to affect as fire or heat does.
    to burn the mouth with pepper
    • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
      This tyrant fever burns me up.
    • John Dryden (1631-1700)
      This dry sorrow burns up all my tears.
    • Epistle of James 4:2 (AMP)
      You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask.
  11. (transitive, surgery) To cauterize.
  12. (transitive, slang) To betray.
    The informant burned him.
  13. (transitive, computing) To write data to a permanent storage medium like a compact disc or a ROM chip.
    We’ll burn this program onto an EEPROM one hour before the demo begins.
  14. (transitive) To waste (time).
    We have an hour to burn.
  15. (transitive, slang) To insult or defeat.
    I just burned you again.
  16. (transitive, card games) In pontoon, to swap a pair of cards for another pair. Also to deal a dead card.
  17. (photography) To increase the exposure for certain areas of a print in order to make them lighter (compare dodge).
  18. (chemistry, dated) To combine energetically, with evolution of heat.
    Copper burns in chlorine.
  19. (chemistry, transitive) To cause to combine with oxygen or other active agent, with evolution of heat; to consume; to oxidize.
    A human being burns a certain amount of carbon at each respiration.  to burn iron in oxygen
  20. In certain games, to approach near to a concealed object which is sought.
    You're cold... warm... hot... you're burning!
Derived termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English burn, bourne, from Old English burne, burna ‎(spring, fountain), from Proto-Germanic *brunnô, *brunō (compare West Frisian boarne, Dutch bron, German Brunnen), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrew- (compare Albanian burim ‎(spring, fountain) from buroj ‎(to pour, gush, derive), Ancient Greek φρέαρ ‎(phréar, well, reservoir), Old Armenian աղբիւր ‎(ałbiwr, fount)). Doublet of bourn. More at brew.


burn ‎(plural burns)

  1. (Scotland, Northern England) A stream.
    • 1881, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Inversnaid
      THIS darksome burn, horseback brown,
      His rollrock highroad roaring down,
      In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
      Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
    • 1881, Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque:
      He may pitch on some tuft of lilacs over a burn, and smoke innumerable pipes to the tune of the water on the stones.
    • 2008, James Kelman, Kieron Smith, Boy, Penguin 2009, page 105:
      When it was too heavy rain the burn ran very high and wide and ye could never jump it.
Related termsEdit


  • burn” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).
  • Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts, G.&C. Merriam Co., 1967
  • Northumberland Words, English Dialect Society, R. Oliver Heslop, 1893–4




  1. wood



burn (plural burns)

  1. A small river.
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