See also: Burn and bùrn


English Wikipedia has an article on:
A burning fire.


Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English bernen, birnen, from Old English birnan (to burn), metathesis from Proto-West Germanic *brinnan, from Proto-Germanic *brinnaną (to burn), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrenw-, present stem from *bʰrewh₁-, *bʰru-.

See also Middle Irish brennim (drink up), bruinnim (bubble up); also Middle Irish bréo (flame), Albanian burth (Cyclamen hederifolium, mouth burning), Sanskrit भुरति (bhurati, moves quickly, twitches, fidgets)). More at brew.


burn (countable and uncountable, plural burns)

  1. A physical injury caused by heat, cold, electricity, 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 with fire.
    They're doing a controlled burn of the fields.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, in Internal Combustion[1]:
      One typical Grecian kiln engorged one thousand muleloads of juniper wood in a single burn.
  4. (slang) An intense non-physical sting, as left by shame or an effective insult.
  5. (slang) An effective insult, often in the expression sick burn (excellent or badass insult).
  6. Physical sensation in the muscles following strenuous exercise, caused by build-up of lactic acid.
    One and, two and, keep moving; feel the burn!
  7. (uncountable, UK, 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, 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, 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, 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.
  8. (computing) The writing of data to a permanent storage medium like a compact disc or a ROM chip.
    • 2003, Maria Langer, Mac OS X 10.2 Advanced, page 248:
      Allow additional burns enables you to create a multisession CD, which can be used again to write more data.
  9. The operation or result of burning or baking, as in brickmaking.
    They have a good burn.
  10. (uncountable) A disease in vegetables; brand.
  11. (aerospace) The firing of a spacecraft's rockets in order to change its course.
    • 2004, David Baker, Jane's Space Directory, page 529:
      On 4 March 1999, the MCO performed its second course correction manoeuvre with a burn involving its four thrusters []
Derived termsEdit
Terms derived from burn (noun)
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


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

  1. (transitive) To cause to be consumed by fire.
    He burned his manuscript in the fireplace.
    • 2013 June 29, “Unspontaneous combustion”, in 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.
  2. (intransitive) To be consumed by fire, or in flames.
    He watched the house burn.
    • 2013 July 20, “Welcome to the plastisphere”, in 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.
  3. (transitive) To overheat so as to make unusable.
    He burned the toast. The blacksmith burned the steel.
  4. (intransitive) To become overheated to the point of being unusable.
    The grill was too hot and the steak burned.
  5. (transitive) To make or produce by the application of fire or burning heat.
    to burn a hole;  to burn letters into a block
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 78:
      I posted myself near a place where they had been burning charcoal, and very soon the hare came running past, close to where I was standing.
  6. (transitive) To injure (a person or animal) with heat or chemicals that produce similar damage.
    She burned the child with an iron, and was jailed for ten years.
  7. (transitive, surgery) To cauterize.
  8. (transitive, intransitive) To sunburn.
    She forgot to put on sunscreen and burned.
  9. (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
    • c. 1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Life and Death of King Iohn”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii]:
      This tyrant fever burns me up.
    • 1681, John Dryden, The Spanish Fryar: Or, the Double Discovery. [], London: [] Richard Tonson and Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, (please specify the page number):
      This dry sorrow burns up all my tears.
    • 1965, Amplified Bible, James 4:2
      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.
  10. (intransitive) To be hot, e.g. due to embarrassment.
    The child's forehead was burning with fever.  Her cheeks burned with shame.
  11. (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
  12. (chemistry, dated) To combine energetically, with evolution of heat.
    Copper burns in chlorine.
  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.
    • 2015 October 22, Laura Snapes, “How Arctic Monkeys’ debut single changed the music industry and ‘killed the NME’”, in The Guardian[5]:
      At first they didn’t do anything by design, beyond writing songs and gigging around Sheffield, distributing homemade demo CDs at shows. Their canny friends burned copies to leave on buses, but more importantly, uploaded them to filesharing sites and set up a MySpace page.
  14. (transitive, computing, by extension) To render subtitles into a video's content while transcoding it, making the subtitles part of the image.
    My old DVD player could play DivX files but didn't recognize the subtitle file, so I had to burn them in.
  15. (transitive, slang) To betray.
    The informant burned him.
  16. (transitive, slang) To insult or defeat.
    I just burned you again.
  17. (transitive) To waste (time); to waste money or other resources.
    We have an hour to burn.
    The company has burned more than a million dollars a month this year.
  18. In certain games, to approach near to a concealed object which is sought.
    You're cold... warm... hot... you're burning!
    • 1860, Henry David Thoreau, The Last Days of John Brown[6]:
      Not being accustomed to make fine distinctions, or to appreciate magnanimity, they read his letters and speeches as if they read them not. They were not aware when they approached a heroic statement,—they did not know when they burned.
  19. (intransitive, curling) To accidentally touch a moving stone.
  20. (transitive, card games) In pontoon, to swap a pair of cards for another pair, or to deal a dead card.
  21. (photography) To increase the exposure for certain areas of a print in order to make them lighter (compare dodge).
  22. (intransitive, physics, of an element) To be converted to another element in a nuclear fusion reaction, especially in a star.
  23. (intransitive, slang, card games, gambling) To discard.
  24. (transitive, slang) To shoot someone with a firearm.
  25. (transitive, espionage) To compromise (an agent's cover story).
    • 2011, Thomas H. Cook, Night Secrets:
      He had already burned his cover with Mrs. Phillips, and it was not a mistake he intended to make again.
    • 2013, Vanessa Kier, Vengeance: The SSU Book 1:
      Eventually they'd report back to Ryker, and he still didn't know if Ryker had personally burned his cover and sent assassins after him, or if the SSU had a mole. Until he knew for certain, he had to play this safe.
  26. (transitive, espionage) To blackmail.
    • 1979, John le Carré, Smiley's People:
      "How does Leipzig burn him precisely?" Enderby insisted. "What's the pressure? Dirty pix—well, okay. Karla's a puritan, so's Kirov. But I mean, Christ, this isn't the fifties, is it? []
Derived termsEdit
Terms derived from the verb “burn”
Related termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English burn, bourne, from Old English burne, burna (spring, fountain), Proto-West Germanic *brunnō, from Proto-Germanic *brunnô, *brunō.

Cognate with West Frisian boarne, Dutch bron, German Brunnen; also Albanian burim (spring, fountain), Ancient Greek φρέαρ (phréar, well, reservoir), Old Armenian աղբիւր (ałbiwr, fount). Doublet of bourn. More at brew.


burn (plural burns)

  1. (Northern England, Scotland) A stream.
    • 1881, Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Inversnaid”, in Robert Bridges, editor, Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins: Now First Published [], London: Humphrey Milford, published 1918, →OCLC, stanza 1, page 53:
      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, published 2009, page 105:
      When it was too heavy rain the burn ran very high and wide and ye could never jump it.
Derived termsEdit
Related termsEdit



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  1. wood




Middle English bourne, from Old English burne, burna (spring, fountain).

Cognate with West Frisian boarne, Dutch bron, German Brunnen; also Albanian burim (spring, fountain), Ancient Greek φρέαρ (phréar, well, reservoir), Old Armenian աղբիւր (ałbiwr, fount).


burn (plural burns)

  1. A small river.
    • 1792, Robert Burns, The lea-rig:
      Down by the burn where scented birks / Wi' dew are hangin clear, my jo,
      (please add an English translation of this quote)


burn” in the Dictionary of the Scots Language, Edinburgh: Scottish Language Dictionaries.