English edit

Pronunciation edit

A picture frame being covered with gold leaf and burnished (etymology 1, verb sense 1.1) with a tool called a burnisher.

Etymology 1 edit

The verb is derived from Middle English burnishen, burnysshen (to polish, burnish; (figuratively) to brighten, give lustre to; to clean (something) until shiny; to decorate (with something shiny), adorn) [and other forms],[1] from burniss-, a stem of Old French burnir (compare, for example, the first-person present singular indicative form burnis), a variant of brunir (to make clean and shiny, polish; to make brown) (modern French brunir),[2] from Frankish *brūnijan (to polish, make resplendent), from Proto-Germanic *brūnijaną (to decorate; tan), from Proto-Germanic *brūnaz (brown, adjective), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerH- (brown, adjective). Doublet of brown and brunneous.

The noun is derived from the verb.[3]

Verb edit

burnish (third-person singular simple present burnishes, present participle burnishing, simple past and past participle burnished)

  1. (transitive)
    1. To make (something, such as a surface) bright, shiny, and smooth by, or (by extension) as if by, rubbing; to polish, to shine.
      Synonyms: buff, furbish; see also Thesaurus:rub
      In pottery, a stone is sometimes used to burnish a pot before firing, giving it a smooth, shiny look.
      • 1523, John Skelton, “A Ryght Delectable Tratyse vpon a Goodly Garlande or Chapelet of Laurell, []”, in Alexander Dyce, editor, The Poetical Works of John Skelton: [], volume I, London: Thomas Rodd, [], published 1843, →OCLC, page 383, lines 1205–1208:
        Lyke as the larke, vpon the somers day, / Whan Titan radiant burnisshith his bemis bryght, []
      • 1596, Edmund Spenser, “Book V, Canto VIII”, in The Faerie Queene. [], part II (books IV–VI), London: [] [Richard Field] for William Ponsonby, →OCLC, stanza 29, page 289:
        So forth he came all in a cote of plate, / Burniſht vvith bloudie ruſt; []
        Regarded by the Oxford English Dictionary as a nonce use.
      • 1663, Edward Sparke, “Poem 15. On Whitsunday.”, in ΘΥΣΙΑΣΤΗΡΙΟΝ [Thusiastērion] vel Scintilla-Altaris. Or Primitive Devotion in the Feasts and Fasts of the Church of England. [], 3rd edition, London: [] R. Wood, for H. Brome, [], →OCLC, page 327:
        Fire Renovates and Burniſheth the Mine, / The Spirit of VVisdom, makes the Face to ſhine: / Fire elevates, inclines things to Aſcend, / The Spirit of Faith too makes Souls upvvard tend: []
      • 1667, John Milton, “Book IV”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 246–251:
        Thus was this place, / A happy rural ſeat of various view; / Groves whoſe rich Trees wept Odorous Gummes and Balme, / Others whoſe fruit burniſht with Golden Rinde / Hung amiable, Heſperian Fables true, / If true, here onely, and of delicious taſte: []
      • 1766, John Cunningham, “Day, a Pastoral. Evening.”, in Poems, Chiefly Pastoral, Dublin: [] Peter Wilson, [], and Boulter Grierson, [], →OCLC, stanza XIX, page 10:
        Novv the village vvindovvs blaze, / Burniſh'd by the ſetting ſun.
      • 1910, Edmond Rostand, translated by Gertrude Hall, Chantecler: Play in Four Acts, New York, N.Y.: Duffield and Company, →OCLC, act I, scene ii, page 24:
        Thou [the sun] smilest on the sunflower craning after thee, / And burnishest my brother of the vane, []
    2. Of a stag: to remove the velvet (skin and fine fur) from (its antlers) by rubbing them against something; to velvet.
    3. (figuratively) To make (someone or something) appear positive and highly respected.
      • 1606, Thomas Dekker, “The Seuen Deadly Sinnes of London: Drawne in Seuen Severall Coaches, through the Seuen Seueral Gates of the Citie Bringing the Plague with Them: 2. Lying. Or, The Second Dayes Triumph”, in Alexander B[alloch] Grosart, editor, The Non-dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker. [] (The Huth Library), volume II, London, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire: [] [Hazell, Watson, & Viney] for private circulation only, published 1885, →OCLC, page 34:
        If a Lye, after it is molded, be not ſmooth enough, there is no inſtrumẽt to burniſh it, but an oath; Svvearing giues it cullor, & a bright complexion.
      • 1719, [Thomas] d’Urfey, “The New Windsor Ballad”, in Wit and Mirth: Or Pills to Purge Melancholy; [], volume II, London: [] W. Pearson, for J[acob] Tonson, [], published 1719 (2nd printing; republished 19th century), →OCLC, page 104:
        [I]f he is not burnishing thinks he all's Time does lose, / For Sir Jan, Sir Jan, &c. [i.e., no dinner gave a Muse.]
        A reflexive use.
      • 1726, [Edward Young], The Universal Passion. Satire the Last. To the Right Honourable Sir Robert Walpole., 1st edition, London: [] J[ames] Roberts [], →OCLC, page 8:
        Purſuit of fame vvith pedants fills our ſchools, / And into Coxcombs burniſhes our Fools; []
      • 1870, The Superior Animal; a Satire, London: J. Haddon & Co., [], →OCLC, page 15:
        He burnisheth stale villanies afresh. / Whilst, ravenous as sharks for human flesh, / His gaping audience bold the tumid food, / More grateful the more foully 'tis imbued.
      • 2006, Laura Browder, “Maid Marians and Bad Mothers: From the Gungirls of the 1920s to the Gangsters of the 1930s”, in Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America, Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, →ISBN, page 133:
        Bonnie Parker helped burnish her own image.
      • 2008, Otto Rahn, “Meran”, in Christopher Jones, transl., Lucifer’s Court: A Heretic’s Journey in Search of the Light Bringers, 1st U.S. edition, Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, →ISBN, part 2, page 108:
        In particular, those who experienced her [Elizabeth of Hungary's]three rose miracles did the most to burnish her legend.
      • 2016, Geo Takach, “War of the Wild Roses”, in A. Hansen, S. Depoe, editors, Scripting the Environment: Oil, Democracy and the Sands of Time and Space (Palgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication), Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, Springer Nature, →DOI, →ISBN, page 165:
        Desperate to burnish her legacy, Louise pleads her case for higher status based on her achievements on Earth as a philanthropist, artist, and occasional royal rebel.
      • 2021 July 8, Sheera Frenkel, Cecilia Kang, “Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s partnership did not survive [Donald] Trump”, in The New York Times[1], New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2022-11-29:
        One of her [Sheryl Sandberg's] primary roles had been to charm Washington on Facebook's behalf, and protect and burnish its image. Neither project was going particularly well.
  2. (intransitive)
    1. To become bright, glossy, and smooth; to brighten, to gleam, to shine forth.
      • 1624 (first performance), John Fletcher, Rule a Wife and Have a Wife. A Comoedy. [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: [] Leonard Lichfield [], published 1640, →OCLC, Act I, scene i, page 2:
        Hovv you itch Michaell, hovv you burniſh! / VVill not this ſouldiers heat out of your bones yet, / Doe your eyes glovv novv?
      • 1706, [Jonathan Swift], “The Description of a Salamander. []”, in Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, London: [] John Morphew [], published 1711, →OCLC, pages 374–375:
        So vvhen the VVar has rais'd a Storm, / I've ſeen a Snake in human Form, / All ſtain'd in Infamy and Vice, / Leap from the Dunghill in a trice, / Burniſh and make a gaudy ſhovv, / Become a General, Peer, and Beau, / Till Peace hath made the Sky Serene, / Then ſhrink into it's Hole again.
Conjugation edit
Derived terms edit
Translations edit

Noun edit

burnish (countable and uncountable, plural burnishes)

  1. (countable)
    1. A shine of something which has been polished; a lustre, a polish.
    2. A shiny layer applied to a surface or other thing.
  2. (uncountable) The making of something bright, shiny, and smooth by, or (by extension) as if by, rubbing; (countable) an instance of this; a burnishing, a polishing, a shining.
    With a good burnish, the old table should fetch a higher price.
Translations edit

Etymology 2 edit

From Middle English barnishen, barnish (to grow big (with child), to become pregnant; to grow stout or strong);[4][5] further etymology uncertain, possibly from barn (child, offspring; infant; unborn child; human being, person; male person, man (especially a young man or young warrior)).[6] (from Old English bearn (child), from Proto-West Germanic *barn (child), from Proto-Germanic *barną (child), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰer- (to bear, carry)) + -ishen (suffix forming verbs).[7]

Verb edit

burnish (third-person singular simple present burnishes, present participle burnishing, simple past and past participle burnished) (intransitive, obsolete except British, dialectal)

  1. Of a person's body: to grow large or stout; to fatten, to fill out.
  2. (by extension) Of a thing: to increase in size; to expand, to spread out, to swell.
    • 1624, Henry Wotton, The Elements of Architecture, [], London: [] Iohn Bill, →OCLC, II. part, page 117:
      [Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects] is to paſſe a running examination ouer the vvhole Edifice, according to the properties of a vvell ſhapen Man. As [] vvhether the Fabrique bee of a beautifull Stature, vvhether for the breadth it appeare vvell burniſhed, [] and ſo forth.
      An adjective use.
    • [1633], George Herbert, “Jordan”, in [Nicholas Ferrar], editor, The Temple: Sacred Poems, and Private Ejaculations, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: [] Thomas Buck and Roger Daniel; and are to be sold by Francis Green, [], →OCLC; reprinted London: Elliot Stock, [], 1885, →OCLC, page 95:
      My thoughts began to burniſh, ſprout, and ſvvell, / Curling vvith metaphors a plain intention, / Decking the ſenſe, as if it vvere to ſell.
    • a. 1662 (date written), Thomas Fuller, “London”, in The History of the Worthies of England, London: [] J[ohn] G[rismond,] W[illiam] L[eybourne] and W[illiam] G[odbid], published 1662, →OCLC, page 190:
      Some have ſuſpected the declining of the Luſtre thereof [i.e., of London], becauſe of late it vergeth ſo much VVeſtvvard, increaſing in Buildings in Convent Garden, &c. But by their Favour (to diſprove their Fear) it vvill be found to Burniſh round about, to every point of the compaſſe, vvith nevv Structures daily added thereunto.
Translations edit

References edit

  1. ^ burnishen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ burnish, v.1”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022; burnish, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ burnish, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; burnish, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  4. ^ barnishen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  5. ^ † burnish, v.2”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2022.
  6. ^ bā̆rn, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  7. ^ -ish(e(n, suf.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.

Further reading edit