From Middle English quenchen, from Old English cwenċan, from Proto-Germanic *kwankijaną.


  • IPA(key): /kwɛnt͡ʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛntʃ


quench (third-person singular simple present quenches, present participle quenching, simple past and past participle quenched)

  1. (transitive) To satisfy, especially a literal or figurative thirst.
    The library quenched her thirst for knowledge.
    Synonyms: appease, slake
  2. (transitive) To extinguish or put out (as a fire or light).
    • 1798, Francisco de Quevedo, Fortune in Her Wits, and the Hour of All Men[1], volume 3, Edinburgh, translation of La fortuna con seso, y La hora de todos, pages 130–131:
      [] others ſaying, the fire would ceaſe as ſoon as it had vent, uncovered a great part of the houſe, breaking down the roofs, and destroying all that ſtood in their way. None of them went about to quench the fire, but all were employed in pulling down the houſe,  []
  3. (transitive, metallurgy) To cool rapidly by direct contact with liquid coolant, as a blacksmith quenching hot iron.
    The swordsmith quenched the sword in an oil bath so that it wouldn't shatter.
  4. (transitive, chemistry) To terminate or greatly diminish (a chemical reaction) by destroying or deforming the remaining reagents.
  5. (transitive, physics) To rapidly change the parameters of a physical system.
    • 2018, “Strong quenches in the one-dimensional Fermi-Hubbard model”, in Physical Review A[2], volume 98, DOI:10.1103/PhysRevA.98.033602, page 1:
      A suitable method to prepare a system out of equilibrium in order to study the ensuing dynamics is to quench the system, i.e., to change its parameters abruptly.
  6. (transitive, physics) To rapidly terminate the operation of a superconducting electromagnet by causing part or all of the magnet's windings to enter the normal, resistive state.
    If someone is pinned against the MRI magnet by a ferromagnetic object, you may need to quench the magnet in order to free them.
    • 2015 May 15, Derek Lowe, “Quenching NMRs, Accidentally and On Purpose”, in In the Pipeline[3], archived from the original on 20 November 2022, retrieved 19 November 2022:
      These knobs are generally mounted behind a cover of some sort, to prevent someone from leaning up against them or putting a philodendron on top of them, because (1) that aforementioned geyser can represent thousands to tens of thousands of dollars of helium these days, and (2) quenching is Not Good for the integrity of the magnet, and in the worse[sic] case you might find yourself with a lot of high-quality scrap metal.



quench (plural quenches)

  1. (physics) The abnormal termination of operation of a superconducting magnet, occurring when part of the superconducting coil enters the normal (resistive) state.
    • 2019 June 13, Steve Rentz, “What Is an MRI Quench?”, in Block Imaging[4], archived from the original on 20 November 2022, retrieved 19 November 2022:
      There are two main types of quenches, and both are triggered by the red button. A customer of ours actually pushed his once, out of curiosity. And no, he was not 7 years old. This button is primarily for safety purposes. In some rare cases, clear signage is ignored and metal objects like mop buckets, oxygen tanks, etc. get sucked into the bore of the MRI. These are very difficult to remove while the magnet is at field. And, if a patient is somehow pinned inside, an emergency push of the quench button can be a lifesaver. The button artificially heats the magnet and starts the chain reaction described above.
  2. (physics) A rapid change of the parameters of a physical system.