Main definitions of burn in English

: burn1burn2



  • 1no object (of a fire) flame or glow while consuming a material such as coal or wood.

    ‘a fire burned and crackled cheerfully in the grate’
    • ‘In December 1952, a particularly cold spell meant that most people kept their coal fires burning more than usual.’
    • ‘If the funeral pyres are still burning by then, you might have little better to do anyway.’
    • ‘At low elevations, charred trunks today stand sentinel on steep slopes where fire burned very hot, consuming every needle and pine cone.’
    • ‘And warning signs include soot stains on or above appliances, coal or wood fires burning slowly or going out and everyone at home feeling ill at the same time.’
    • ‘The most recent hangover fire crews have fought is a 25-hectare blaze burning 12 kilometres east of Mabel Lake near Enderby.’
    • ‘Incredibly, however, many on the council still refused to admit that the whole problem was the hundred acre coal fire merrily burning beneath the town.’
    • ‘After three short weeks the total of infected farms has risen to 135-19 of those in Scotland and the funeral pyres are still burning.’
    • ‘Those wet jugs then have to be baked in true kilns, for which you have to keep the fire burning by providing enough wood.’
    • ‘Forest fires burning in the woods outside Moscow have filled the city with smoke.’
    • ‘Close by, a low fire burned, its flames licking hungrily at embers.’
    • ‘He emerged in the open space where the tall pyre still burnt for the Lord of Fire and the statues still gouted irregular jets of flame.’
    • ‘When we came back, we could just see a great cloud of smoke and in the evening the red glow of fire still burning.’
    • ‘There was a warm fire burning cheerfully nearby, and he could swear there were more voices nearby.’
    • ‘Lincoln's fire policy was questioned last term, when a fire burned unnoticed overnight and porters, believing there was no fire, turned off five alarms.’
    • ‘There was a bonfire burning in the fire pit and camp chairs set up.’
    • ‘As we were rowed back to the Assi Ghat, the boat veered a little towards the shores where the funeral pyres were burning.’
    • ‘The fire had burned low while we slept but the embers were still glowing and hot.’
    • ‘Residents of a York suburb were clearing up this afternoon after a major gas leak sparked a fireball and a blaze burned through the night causing 300 people to be evacuated from their homes.’
    • ‘This time, the magical orb of fire burned with a black flame, much like that of the Shadow Reavers.’
    • ‘Under five sawn-off oil barrels fierce wood fires are burning: on top of them are the woks of giants, each as wide as I can stretch my arms.’
    be on fire, be alight, be ablaze, blaze, go up, go up in smoke, be in flames, be aflame
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a candle or other source of light) be alight.
      ‘a light was burning in the hall’
      • ‘Without the flash, the solitary candle burning inside was the source of light, and the photo really shows up the carving and the fact that it is a Halloween pumpkin.’
      • ‘The tomb sits alone in an arched alcove to the right of the main altar of the central nave, a leafy potted lily behind it and a small red candle burning at the front.’
      • ‘The arsonist is believed to have used two large candles from the altar - which he lit from smaller candles burning in a sand-filled bowl - to carry out the attack.’
      • ‘It is as if there is a small candle burning in the room: bring a bigger light into the room and the small candle simply loses all significance.’
      • ‘Long before electric light came to the Irish countryside it was a heart-warming sight to see the candles burning in the windows on Christmas Eve.’
      • ‘Candles are burning at Atocha station, and trains from the suburb where many of the 202 murdered victims lived arrive half-empty.’
      • ‘The solitary candle burning on the table threw a faint light on her face, yet it was clear that she was very unhappy.’
      • ‘Outside the church in Suai the candles were still burning.’
      • ‘And leaving a candle burning unattended whilst spending nearly three hours down the pub was probably not a good idea, but thankfully one that has led to no damage.’
      • ‘This means that an equivalent size beeswax candle will burn brighter, and for longer, than a paraffin wax one.’
      • ‘It was still mostly dark, especially under the trees, and candles still burned on the graves from visitors the night before.’
      • ‘Candles burned in the trailer, casting just enough light into the yard area that she could see what she was doing.’
      • ‘Once the candles were burning away, we watched ‘The Princess Diaries’ on TV.’
      • ‘As the candles burned, Terry breathed deeply the light scents of vanilla and almond candles.’
      • ‘For as far as you could see, there were candles burning on graves of every size, dotting the hillside with light.’
      • ‘Stars everywhere, glowing and burning bright with a fire so powerful that it couldn't be measured.’
      • ‘A picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, with a candle burning underneath, brings the real difference to the show.’
      • ‘Now, the coals of the campfire had burned low and, in the big skillet, rabbit legs and thick bacon rashers spluttered.’
      • ‘In Bandung city, despite the president's call, decorative lights in the lobby of the Bandung City Council building were burning bright.’
      • ‘One candle burned near the hearth, kept to light others, the one thing that reminded her of life at Kamrit Castle.’
    2. 1.2 Be in flames.
      ‘by nightfall, the whole city was burning’
      • ‘The company were forced to flee the city via the mirror gate as Pain burned.’
      • ‘The city was on the edge of a giant ocean and yet the city burned forever.’
      • ‘The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were burning.’
      • ‘Border City burned, the magical flames from Uriko's spell spreading out from near its center, engulfing the whole city.’
      • ‘Yes during the riots when whole Bombay is burning like a firecracker.’
      • ‘While New York City burned, Federal officials acted too slowly to meet the threat at hand.’
      • ‘Farms, mining camps, trestles, hobo camps, and whole towns cracked and burned.’
      • ‘Even from where he stood, the boy could smell the blood, smoke, and death as his city, his father's city, burned.’
      • ‘From where she was, it seemed like the whole City was burning.’
      • ‘The more the city burned, the more oxygen was sucked in - and the greater the firestorm became.’
      • ‘The rest of the city lay burned or burning with the stench of flesh and blood magnified by the sunrise.’
      • ‘Clutching the wound on his side he watched as the city burned.’
      • ‘Why wait until our children are dying of smallpox or our cities are burning?’
      • ‘The whole ward was at a standstill, in a state of a shock, watching a Hindu and a Muslim hugging each other in the midst of a city burning in Hindu-Muslim riots.’
      • ‘Even several localities in Mumbai had remained quiet while rest of the city was burning in 1992-93.’
      • ‘It's 6am and Basra is burning, black clouds of oily smoke drifting over the city to the east, the sound of gunfire rolling across the canal.’
      • ‘Still charmed, when Pentheus saw this, he supposed the whole place was burning.’
      • ‘It was deathly quiet; the suburbs were all but abandoned as the city center crumbled and burned.’
      • ‘Like any normal person, I enjoy watching cities burn.’
      • ‘And the city duly burned for four days, the flames jumping 20 blocks northwards every hour on the first night.’
    3. 1.3with object Use (a type of fuel) as a source of heat or energy.
      ‘a diesel engine converted to burn natural gas’
      • ‘Normally, this is done by burning jet fuel, which is exactly what the new nuclear plane will do when it takes off, climbs and lands.’
      • ‘Greenhouse emissions are one of the biggest concerns with burning fossil fuels to produce electricity.’
      • ‘Meeting the new specifications required a number of technical changes in engine design, primarily in how diesel fuel is burned in the cylinder.’
      • ‘The leading greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.’
      • ‘Without oxygen from any source, the anaerobic cells are not able to burn stored fuel in the usual way, through metabolic respiration.’
      • ‘Many of the marines were operating at altitudes so high their petrol cigarette lighters did not light in the thin air and it was difficult to use the portable stoves which burn a chemical fuel to heat their food or brew up tea.’
      • ‘The traditional bonfires burned wood and straw.’
      • ‘Open fires burning wood and coal are the main cause of the pollution, along with vehicle emissions.’
      • ‘Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, the planet would continue to heat up for more than a hundred years.’
      • ‘They are commonly produced by burning fossil fuels such as driving cars, and smelting and processing metals.’
      • ‘Currently we get most of our energy from burning fossil fuels.’
      • ‘Once the plant is in operation it will mean a significant amount of electricity will be generated for the 900-year-old castle without burning fossil fuels.’
      • ‘These estimates are difficult because they rely on complex models and calculations about how a star burns its nuclear fuel and ages.’
      • ‘Most backup diesel generators burn distillate fuel oil, the same fuel used for heating and for aircraft.’
      • ‘Using energy, mainly by burning fossil fuels, produces waste carbon dioxide.’
      • ‘The second factor is growing awareness of global climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.’
      • ‘France has a great abundance of cheap electricity thanks to their nuclear power stations, whereas our electricity to recycle the glass is produced by burning fossil fuels.’
      • ‘The problem is that burning fossil fuels releases CO2 which was laid down millions of years ago when the oil and coal was being created.’
      • ‘After all, if burning fossil fuels is to blame for global warming, it makes sense to burn less of them.’
      • ‘This not only burns diesel fuel, but can also spread disease as soil is moved from field to field.’
    4. 1.4with object (of the body of a person or animal) convert (calories) to energy.
      ‘exercise does help to burn up calories’
      • ‘Once you find a rhythm your body likes, you won't even know you are burning hundreds of calories an hour.’
      • ‘Labor saving devices such as washing machines, remote controls, computers and power tools have not only saved us time but have prevented us from burning calories.’
      • ‘Waelchli also adds that the body loses weight as a system, so it does not matter what type of exercise the client is doing as long as they are active and burning calories.’
      • ‘Ryan was on the swim team at McClure North High School, so he burned those calories right off.’
      • ‘Your body burns a number of calories for every kilogram you weigh.’
      • ‘It also increases metabolism, and lastly, it is thermogenic, which means that this herb encourages the body to burn calories.’
      • ‘Does this mean I only need to burn fifty-four calories a day (in exercise) to prevent heart disease?’
      • ‘If your body gets used to one exercise, you'll soon quit burning calories - the plateau we know too well.’
      • ‘Movements that used both the upper and lower body burned the most calories - about 8.3 per minute.’
      • ‘When it's underactive, your body burns fewer calories and burns them more slowly, which is why it can affect your ability to lose weight.’
      • ‘The benefits As with regular stationary cycling, you'll tone your legs, glutes and abs while burning calories.’
      • ‘This can disrupt the work of the thyroid gland, which regulates how our bodies burn calories.’
      • ‘If you want to increase your body's ability to burn calories, even while at rest, you need to pack on some lean muscle mass.’
      • ‘It's a great way to burn calories as well as toning arms and legs.’
      • ‘Eating breakfast in the morning jumpstarts your body's ability to burn calories.’
      • ‘Regular exercise increases the rate your body burns calories.’
      • ‘Specifically, thyroid hormone helps regulate how many calories your body burns each day.’
      • ‘When you drink water, your body burns extra calories.’
      • ‘My recommendation: buy it, turn up the bass and burn some calories.’
      • ‘Plus I hardly burned enough calories to eat something tonight.’
  • 2Be or cause to be destroyed by fire.

    no object ‘he watched his restaurant burn to the ground’
    with object ‘he burned all the letters’
    • ‘From a military perspective, both cities burned to cinders needlessly.’
    • ‘So far, four homes on the city's outskirts have burned.’
    • ‘Rasiowa's thesis burned together with the whole house.’
    • ‘So every hut we find that has a bunker we are ordered to burn to the ground.’
    • ‘We may have to give up saying, for instance, that a piece of paper is simply destroyed when it is burnt to ashes, or even that a human being simply ceases to exist upon undergoing a fatal accident.’
    • ‘Civanator, ordered to create a pure Indian city in Italia orders the city burnt to the ground.’
    • ‘They burn flags, destroy property, disturb the peace and then act surprised and horrified when they are confronted and arrested.’
    • ‘A fire was had yesterday to burn the hedge trimmings.’
    • ‘Africa could safely burn to the ground and beneath before they would go back there again.’
    • ‘He confirmed that a few vehicles were damaged by Muslim youths in Kakkebbe; in revenge, many Muslim houses were burnt and destroyed.’
    • ‘Grams finally got us all in there, and much to my surprise, the walls did not ignite and burn to the ground.’
    • ‘Her claim that she started the fire while burning a letter from her estranged husband has sparked suspicion among prosecutors.’
    • ‘It took just 10 minutes for the second structure to burn to the ground.’
    • ‘But all is not lost in the city that Sherman burned to the ground.’
    • ‘And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.’
    • ‘Larkin had his diaries destroyed, Hardy burnt all his personal papers, then got his second wife to put her name to the biography he had actually written himself.’
    • ‘However, burning cars prevented firefighters from entering the burning embassy building, prompting fears that it could burn to the ground overnight.’
    • ‘One use for negotiations, of course, would be to gain time to launder your money, burn the files, destroy the evidence etc…’
    • ‘Hotels and restaurants owned by these Muslims were selectively burnt and destroyed during the recent riots.’
    • ‘If your neighbors house was hit by lightning the house might burn to the ground and your house may not even get a surge, only the building hit by lightning got the full strike.’
    set fire to, set on fire, set alight, set light to, light, set burning, ignite, touch off, put a match to, kindle, incinerate, reduce to ashes, destroy by fire
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    1. 2.1 Be or cause to be damaged, injured, or spoiled by heat or fire.
      with object ‘I burned myself on the stove’
      no object ‘the toast's burning’
      • ‘If the person is holding the stone or has the stone in his possession then he cannot be burned by fire, cut by a knife or killed with a gun.’
      • ‘He burned himself the last 3 mornings while making them, and was a little nervous this morning, in fear that today would be no different.’
      • ‘Ricky burned himself trying to make toast and got a blister on his hand, but he felt he was managing.’
      • ‘Miraculously he never burned himself or set the house on fire.’
      • ‘There was a sharp, hot, pain in his palm and Eden jumped back and blankly realized that he'd held the pan's handle wrong and burned himself.’
      • ‘Her face twisted up and Avi had to take the steaming mug from her hands before she spilled it and burned herself.’
      • ‘How many people burned themselves at home from coffee in that same period?’
      • ‘The day before she burned herself with the curling iron, a woman who had promised to take Kisha to a museum in another city abruptly canceled the trip.’
      • ‘Do you know how many people have burned themselves on a coffee pot back here?’
      • ‘I told him about the time that Mother almost burned herself with lye from the soap we were making.’
      • ‘I burned myself preparing a rather sorry looking casserole the other day.’
      • ‘She had burned herself while cooking breakfast, so she was trying to be extremely careful tonight.’
      • ‘You can get burned by heat and fire, radiation, sunlight, electricity or chemicals.’
      • ‘Sherman marched from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, burning and pillaging every city in his path, leaving only destruction in his wake.’
      • ‘Mrs Dhariwal said to her son: ‘I have burned myself and I want to kill myself.’’
      • ‘Not without reason, Americans worried that they could be poisoned by illuminating gas or burned by electrical fires.’
      • ‘Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins.’
      • ‘He burned himself badly but when his parents took him to a doctor he said it was strange that Ben had not cried.’
      • ‘A Pembroke Dock mother-of-two is fuming after her baby son burned himself on exposed heating pipes.’
      • ‘She cut and burned herself and tried to cut off her thumb.’
      scorch, singe, sear, char, blacken, discolour, brand
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    2. 2.2no object (of the skin) become red and painful through exposure to the sun.
      ‘my skin tans easily but sometimes burns’
      • ‘When you are in the sun for too long, your skin can burn.’
      • ‘She could feel her skin burning under the hot Savannah sun and although she detested the snow, she despised the sun just as much.’
      • ‘She wished wistfully for a warm summer on a Californian beach where her skin burned as easily as toast and time seemed to stand still.’
      • ‘Hubby starts with F10 and goes down to F6 as he has skin that doesn't burn easily.’
      • ‘An added problem is the ‘Celtic’ skin type which is common in Scotland: fairer skins burn more easily, and burns mean more skin cancer risk.’
      • ‘As summer came on, his skin was burning or peeling, white or red; he never browned.’
      • ‘He also commented on the lack of moisturiser as his skin burned, peeled and then peeled again in the blazing sun.’
      • ‘Still, I am at the beach and my skin is burning, so I step into the chilly water, inch by inch.’
      • ‘During the Race of Truth, Obree's skin would burn at close to 107.’
      • ‘If he stayed out too late today his skin would burn, and he would be branded with red for several days before his skin turned to a darker golden color.’
      • ‘But take care - sensitive skin may burn after only a few minutes.’
    3. 2.3no object Feel hot or sore, typically as a result of illness or injury.
      ‘her forehead was burning and her throat ached’
      • ‘His throat was burning, and the movement had caused him to pull back, away from Brackett, which sent a searing pain down both arms.’
      • ‘My stomach was on fire, my head throbbed, my muscles ached, my throat burned.’
      • ‘My left leg was bent and throbbing in pain and my forehead was burning.’
      • ‘Too soon, however, he was out of breath, lungs and muscles burning from exertion.’
      • ‘They danced until it was unbearably hot and her throat burned.’
      • ‘My hips were sore and my thighs burned from the repeated kicking.’
      • ‘Each inch of exposed skin burned hot from the cutting, sharp wind, chafing cheeks brutally until they were turned bright, candy cane red.’
      • ‘My hand gripping the stick with such force, my skin was burning, my breathing heavy.’
      • ‘His temples burned and his sores itched, like a thousand worms underneath his skin, crawling and burrowing deeper, ever deeper inside him.’
      • ‘And then our eyes and throats started to burn as the breeze blew toxic chemicals through the air to settle on the laces of the people.’
      • ‘Her skin burned and her heartbeat sped up uncomfortably.’
      • ‘All were in bad temper and soaking wet, eyes burning and sore from the oceans' salt as they sat along the disheveled bank.’
      • ‘His eyes burnt and his throat hurt, but if he didn't speak it'd be okay.’
      • ‘You can relieve dry mouth, which may cause your mouth to burn or feel sore, by drinking plenty of water.’
      • ‘She said her eyes were swollen shut, a tooth was broken and her skin was burning from the pepper spray.’
      • ‘Halfway up the block my eyes and throat were burning.’
      • ‘Her forehead still burned where he had kissed it and her fingers lightly lingered upon it.’
      • ‘My eyes and throat begin to burn as I scramble beneath my cot, feeling for my gas mask with shaking hands.’
      • ‘My throat burned and I could hear myself wheezing, my asthma slowly starting to act up.’
      • ‘As soon as I reached Central Park it rained, and my throat burned, so I came back, crossed the street to avoid the bum, sat in the apartment, and stared at the computer screen.’
      smart, sting, tingle, prick, prickle, be irritated, be sore, hurt, be painful, throb, ache
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  • 3be burning withBe entirely possessed by (a desire or an emotion)

    ‘Martha was burning with curiosity’
    • ‘‘The truth is the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance on South Carolina,’ he had written on Christmas Eve, 1864.’
    • ‘However, inside, he was burning with cold rage.’
    • ‘Although Indira was burning with the desire to pursue what she had glimpsed of the sage's philosophy, practical matters had intervened - in their usual, overwhelming manner.’
    • ‘Inside though, away from her smiling visage, Taira was burning with anger.’
    • ‘Had he been burning with political ambition, he could have easily landed a high-level spot in his father's administration.’
    • ‘I was burning with jealousy.’
    • ‘After all, they had lost loved ones to the enemy, and their hearts were burning with revenge and anger.’
    • ‘Martin tried looking calm as he made his way outside, but he was burning with the need to get something wrote down so that he wouldn't forget how he'd been so royally screwed over today.’
    • ‘They were burning with determination and blood lust for the man who dared take Christine away.’
    • ‘Edith repeated mildly, though inside she was burning with annoyance.’
    • ‘But it doesn't seem to me as if London is burning with fear.’
    • ‘Sara was burning with curiosity in regards to what Torik was doing on the other side of the hill, but she had preparations of her own to make.’
    • ‘These operas were created between 1966 and 1976, each one full of workers, soldiers and slaves who were burning with revolutionary zeal.’
    • ‘It was the longest trip to Versailles ever and I was mad with boredom, for I was burning with excitement to tell Jacqui about a book I read.’
    • ‘Talking face to face, it was clear that Peter Brett was burning with internal rage about these proceedings, and about Beamish's fate.’
    • ‘The shop was on his way to work, and as he walked the same route every day, by the second day that he noticed the vest in the window, he was burning with desire.’
    • ‘I'd never seen anyone walk or talk like her, and my mind was burning with curiosity.’
    • ‘Jack was burning with rage but he could not abandon Eleanor.’
    be consumed by, be consumed with, be eaten up by, be eaten up with, be obsessed by, be obsessed with, be tormented by, be tormented with, be bedevilled by
    seethe, boil, fume, smoulder, simmer, be boiling over, be beside oneself
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  • 4informal no object, with adverbial of direction Drive very fast.

    ‘a despatch rider burning up the highways’
    • ‘I burned down the road as fast as I could go and sure enough I found a nice little out of the way hotel.’
    • ‘We burned up the highways and dirt roads all over Erath County.’
    • ‘They were going into Andover for the day, so they quickly burned past us.’
  • 5with object Produce (a CD or DVD) by copying from an original or master copy.

    • ‘So, as before, you should stick with a maximum 4x write speed if you are burning a DVD for archiving purposes.’
    • ‘Very handy if you want to bring your work home with you without the need for floppy disks, burning CDs every day, or opening up the case to remove the drive.’
    • ‘I needed something that would allow me to burn CDs and watch DVDs.’
    • ‘So I'll still be able to trade MP3s and burn my audio CDs, and I don't need to worry about it.’
    • ‘An old beau sent me the most terrific CD he burned of old music he knew I'd like.’
    • ‘At $45 USD, the price is definitely right as it has the ability to burn CDs and read DVDs as well.’
    • ‘It also comes with a full version of Roxio's Easy CD Creator 6 for burning both DVDs and music CDs.’
    • ‘C-Cube, Henry adds, has been in the digital business since the first DVDs were burned.’
    • ‘Ideally, you should be able to burn your own compact disc using these wave files, so that you can really have a truly personal CD.’
    • ‘This free software will let you burn audio CDs for use with your normal CD players in the house or car.’
    • ‘When you need to deliver a large quantity of digital information to a client, burning a CD or DVD is usually the easiest method.’
    • ‘If I want to do that, I either need to burn an audio CD, or pipe it around in 128KB MP3.’
    • ‘On the ground floor, some surf the Web, check their e-mail, burn CDs or simply use the computers for word processing.’
    • ‘Many enthusiasts have jumped ship to DVD burners, which along with burning DVDs, they can also burn CDs as well.’
    • ‘You can purchase and download hardware and software MPEG Encoders to burn a DVD.’
    • ‘Those who like to mix and match music from multiple compact discs and burn their own CD will also appreciate the new amenity.’
    • ‘Add a little dose of file sharing and bittorrent and kids burning customised DVDs of the juiciest content and hey presto.’
    • ‘Only one measure can be used against widespread cloning of prerecorded audio media by burning CDRs: copy protection!’
    • ‘Thus the popularity of third-party software designed to burn both CDs and DVDs.’
    • ‘For instance, one of the cores could focus on burning a DVD while the other recalculated a spreadsheet or performed a database search.’


  • 1An injury caused by exposure to heat or flame.

    ‘he was treated in hospital for burns to his hands’
    • ‘The flames were soon doused but the patient suffered burns to an arm.’
    • ‘Eight-year-old Daniel did not mind taking off his baseball cap to show the burns to his head that are now healing after three months of intensive treatment.’
    • ‘He has received burns to 45% of his body and also serious injuries to his lungs, head and various other organs.’
    • ‘She escaped with the help of a passer-by but suffered more than 30 injuries, including burns to her face, arm and knees.’
    • ‘He suffered burns to the back, neck and hands while trying to save his home from a blaze which engulfed the building during the wee hours of yesterday morning.’
    • ‘He suffered third degree burns to his feet and legs after two young men poured lighter fuel over his lower body and set him alight.’
    • ‘According to his mother, the youth received burns to his neck and hands and was undergoing treatment at Cork University Hospital.’
    • ‘The man had skull fractures, a severely broken thumb and burns to the bottom of his feet.’
    • ‘Another bear suffered serious burns to its legs and chest, resulting in festering wounds and fever.’
    • ‘Last week, a young Vietnamese woman suffered minor burns to her stomach and hands after her 8210 Nokia mobile phone apparently exploded.’
    • ‘Safety guards will help you protect your child from burns or injury from heat and power appliances.’
    • ‘He was treated in hospital for burns to his hands and foot.’
    • ‘The truck driver suffered minor burns to his face but there were no other injuries or damage to the plant, Reynolds said.’
    • ‘One person suffered burns to the arm and the other had a burnt finger.’
    • ‘Post-mortem tests showed the boy had suffered serious head injuries and burns to nearly all of his body.’
    • ‘Jake, who was eight months old at the time, suffered heat burns rather than direct flame injuries and was in intensive care for two weeks.’
    • ‘If our house was on fire, the camera is one of few things that I'd risk smoke inhalation and multi-degree burns to save.’
    • ‘A nurse applies an orange-coloured antiseptic with cotton wool to a girl who suffered serious burns to her back.’
    • ‘He was rushed to hospital where he was treated for burns to his head.’
    • ‘Roberts said injuries in such an accident could range from burns to broken bones, bruises and sprained ankles from sliding down the emergency chutes.’
    1. 1.1 A mark left on something as a result of being burned.
      ‘the carpet was covered in cigarette burns’
      • ‘Costs for excess wear and tear, such as cigarette burns on the seats or damage to the body, may fall on your shoulders if outlined in the contract.’
      • ‘Officers discovered her locked in a cupboard under the stairs and covered in cigarette burns.’
      • ‘Bullet marks and burns could be seen all over the hull.’
      • ‘Harold Thomson's handkerchief showed the bullet hole and powder burns from the highwayman's gunshot.’
      • ‘A moment later, he sat on the old faded gold-colored couch with cigarette burns and dog hairs covering its once beautiful state.’
      • ‘I'm looking for cigarette burns in the carpet, wine stains on the settee and crushed vol-au-vents on the hearth rug.’
      • ‘The prints are a bit grainy and even retain cigarette burns from their 16 mm origins.’
      • ‘It can leave the back marked with burns and hickeys.’
      • ‘The ‘suite’ consisted of two rooms - a lounge with an old squeaky sofa covered with cigarette burns, and a bedroom.’
      • ‘Queen size it may be, but from the mattress you can see it carried many stains that the last owners were trying to bleach off, and cigarette burns.’
      • ‘Ewan Cameron claims expensive flooring has been damaged, there are food stains on the ceiling, cigarette burns in the soft furnishings, and the bed in the master bedroom is broken.’
      • ‘Cigarette burns are part of the inevitable aftermath of most parties, as is spilt candle wax.’
      • ‘Cobwebs, chewing gum, dust and cigarette burns were some of the sights which greeted a team of inspectors when they arrived for an unannounced visit to Southend Hospital.’
      • ‘The busy staff showed us to our table decorated with a spilt ashtray and cigarette burns.’
      • ‘They're in the other room now, rolled up on their nasty old couch full of cigarette burns, watching a black-and-white TV.’
      • ‘One night, she discovered the back of her sweater ‘polka-dotted’ with cigarette burns.’
      • ‘The craft had obviously seen a lot of the galaxy, judging from the dents, pocks, and black burns covering the hull.’
      • ‘After being arrested the man told officers the boy, who had been badly beaten and was covered in cigarette burns, was in the bedroom.’
      • ‘A burn marked his coat, but there didn't seem to be any bleeding of burns on his skin.’
      • ‘Sixteen years old, he wears a nylon jacket with round cigarette burns in the shell, dirty cotton batting seeping out.’
    2. 1.2 An injury caused by friction.
      ‘they found rope burns around her waist’
      • ‘Cleo was dumped next to him, her hands and feet bound with coarse rope that caused friction burns on her skin.’
      • ‘Razor burn and prickly underarm hair make the list of most women's annoying beauty battles.’
      • ‘I'm back at work, after five days of sitting around with half my head swollen up and the other half covered in friction burns.’
      • ‘It was like an ultrasonic shower, toothbrush, and shave in one, but without dampness or razor burn.’
      • ‘If you're tired of razor burn and those annoying nicks and cuts you have to endure, then say hello to a new innovation in shaving.’
      • ‘The end result is that you'll be able to kiss those nasty razor burns goodbye.’
      • ‘I still have all the marks from the rug burns from the lap dance I did.’
      • ‘Initially Mrs Davis, who managed to walk from the bus with more minor friction burns, and her husband were taken to a local cottage hospital in Tonopah.’
      • ‘Medical evidence was given to the inquest that death was caused by asphyxia secondary to compression with fractures of the ribs and friction burns.’
      • ‘Using an old blade (three shaves per blade should be the maximum) and pressing too firmly on the surface will inevitably lead to razor burn and cuts.’
      • ‘Sensor Excel doesn't feel smooth, and I have slight razor burn on my knees.’
      • ‘I left with a little rope burn and a pounding heart.’
      • ‘She asked that I tell no one about the bruises he left on her shoulders, the belt marks on her thighs, the rope burns on her wrists and ankles.’
      • ‘My hands have rope burns from trying to hang onto the camera.’
      • ‘Without the proper equipment, a worker risks injuries such as abrasions, or friction burns.’
      • ‘Each participant took their respective places and was getting handkerchiefs or spare shirts to act as a protection from rope burns.’
      • ‘But examining doctors found no evidence of what would certainly have been major trauma - no cuts, rope burns, scars.’
      • ‘His hands were covered in rope burns and marks, his face red with nervousness and fatigue.’
      • ‘A Soccerdome website boasts that all the pitches are made of ‘Field Turf’ synthetic pitches which are just like real grass but do not cause friction burns.’
      • ‘Without a sudsy, creamy, foamy or oily lubricant, you can give yourself razor burn or rash - no thanks.’
    3. 1.3 A hot, painful sensation in the muscles experienced as a result of sustained vigorous exercise.
      • ‘In order for the metabolic and muscle burn to occur, there must be plenty of water and plenty of oxygen.’
      • ‘If you're one of those souls who is blessed with gym discipline or a YMCA membership, then you know how satisfying the lingering burn of energized muscles can be.’
      • ‘You know that painful burn in your muscles when you're exercising intensely, that's because of a build-up of lactic acid, right?’
      • ‘What matters is building a severe burn with my first exercise, then keeping it going through the others.’
      • ‘Any pain other than muscle burn is cause for suspicion.’
      • ‘This exercise is going to ignite a deep burn in all your back muscles.’
      • ‘So the coach of course is not experiencing the pain of the athlete who's running, for example and who's now in a state of oxygen debt and experiencing muscle burn and so forth.’
      • ‘When there is a burn in my muscles, I just keep going and going and going.’
      • ‘When you're lifting weights, the good pain is the burn you feel in the muscle belly.’
      • ‘For an optimal burn, don't let your shoulders touch down between reps.’
      • ‘It'll be fairly light, but you're focusing on pumping the muscle and feeling the burn, not the weight.’
  • 2Consumption of a type of fuel as an energy source.

    ‘natural gas produces the cleanest burn of the lot’
    • ‘At a cruise speed with a reasonable fuel burn of 400 pph, a true airspeed in excess of 140 kt straight and level can be expected.’
    • ‘I set the right throttle at idle, which minimized our fuel burn from the rapidly depleting side.’
    • ‘The result is a notably more enthusiastic Aerostar that offers a choice of extra speed for extra fuel burn or the old speed for roughly the same burn.’
    • ‘Also, the combustion chamber in the rotary engine is larger, which facilitates a better burn of the fuel.’
    • ‘Garrett claims that with the new direct-climb-to-altitude capability, overall block fuel burn should be reduced.’
    • ‘This puts fuel burn at around 180 pph for a twinjet aircraft.’
    • ‘To get a good idea of our fuel burn, we used the fleet numerical's great optimal-path-aircraft-routing program.’
    • ‘The plane had full tanks of fuel for a flight of less than two hours, and I'm not sure that I was even aware of the fuel burn or total capacity.’
    • ‘It also asserts that the fuel burn is 21-22 per cent lower per seat for the longer-range 777s.’
    • ‘Many hunters and boat-users have already moved to four-stroke engines because of the fuel efficiency and cleaner burn, Irving noted.’
    • ‘Expect a fuel burn of 14 litres / 100 km in the city and around 8 litres / 100 km on the highway.’
    • ‘I'm sure that with more experience with the Wasp, I'll get better at minimising my fuel burn and maximising my distance.’
    • ‘This ratio is often stated in terms of its stoichiometric value, the ideal ratio of air and fuel required to provide the complete burn.’
    • ‘This has been aimed primarily at improving durability, as well as modifying thrust characteristics and further reducing fuel burn.’
    • ‘Fuel burn calculations were based on flight times listed in the airplane logbook.’
    • ‘Ice accumulation creates more drag, requiring more power and a corresponding increase in fuel burn.’
    • ‘The airline captain records a fuel burn of 9 gph per engine on his Geronimo, seemingly irrespective of altitude.’
    • ‘Best economy fuel burns at the above settings are 14 and 11 gph, respectively.’
    • ‘Now the fuel burn is so high the situation has become critical.’
    • ‘This machine lived up to expectation with great climb and descent rates coupled with a low fuel burn.’
    1. 2.1 A firing of a rocket engine in flight.
      • ‘A second burn was due to take place at 18: 17 CEST, lasting only a few seconds.’
      • ‘Ninety minutes after the launch a second burn will send the spacecraft on its way to Mars.’
      • ‘The mission would fail if any of the four engine burns needed to reach the Moon and get into lunar orbit underperformed.’
      • ‘We were doing the final burns for orbital insertion when I finally had time to look at the unpromising object on the screen.’
      • ‘Contour was programmed to re-establish telemetry contact with the ground following the burn, however, no signal was received.’
      • ‘But an early burn cutoff could delay the main part of the mission.’
      • ‘The potential result is a dead passenger if he or she goes into complete cardiac arrest during the motor burn of up to several minutes.’
      • ‘The rocket burn sent SpaceShipOne on a trajectory that sent it climbing for almost a minute after the engine shut down.’
      • ‘A 20-second burn of the Fregat upper stage placed Venus Express into a circular parking orbit.’
      • ‘Camino-Ramos explained that the third burn, underway for most of last week, would bring the craft within capture distance of the Moon.’
      • ‘The US Delta launch vehicle upper stage now performs such a burn to depletion.’
      • ‘The burn executed nominally and was within about 0.4% of the expected design of the burn.’
      • ‘The rocket continued higher on the momentum from the successful first-stage burn, but it soon peaked and started to fall.’
      • ‘It is committed to the ballistic part of its trajectory from the latter portion of the rocket motor burn until it gets back down to breathable air.’
      • ‘During its two-minute burn at liftoff, each motor generates an average thrust of 2.6 million pounds.’
      • ‘Scientists suspect that the final rocket burn sent the spacecraft slightly off course, so that although it made it into orbit, it is not in the orbit they expected.’
      • ‘The burn will slow the spacecraft's speed by 102 meters per second.’
      • ‘If this burn does not take place successfully, Cassini-Huygens will fly by Saturn, never to return.’
      • ‘Were it not for the engine burn, the spacecraft would have accelerated far more and continued on to the outer reaches of the Solar System.’
      • ‘With respect to orbit altitude, four of six planned ascent burns have been completed.’
  • 3NZ Australian North American An act of clearing of vegetation by burning.

    • ‘Indeed, even the mild intervention of a slash burn, to clear the cutover area of debris, would impede the forest's natural regeneration.’
    • ‘He asserts his evidence proves that Aboriginal people did not conduct regular burns in the land now encompassed by the park.’
    • ‘A recent 500 ha hazard reduction burn in the area did not stop the fire jumping Warragamba Dam and destroying businesses and homes in the township.’
    • ‘Present herds remain largely confined to areas of recent burn and grassy, south-facing slopes.’
    • ‘The farmers had started a stubble burn in the field next to the jars and, even from the bottom of the slope at the cave's entrance, we could see sheets of fire flickering some 6 feet into the air.’
    • ‘In the period prior to the bush fire danger period, landholders are still responsible for any burning activity including pile burns or broad acre burns.’
    • ‘As we have learnt from other countries such as Canada, America, and Australia, a timely burn is highly appropriate as long as the area is not burnt every few years.’
    • ‘As part of its habitat management strategy, the U.S. Forest Service started a prescribed burn in the area of Mack Lake.’
    • ‘They coordinated and conducted an airfield burn of 160 acres, which reduced the safe habitat for small vermin.’
    • ‘The state currently carries out only 20 percent of the prescribed burns and brush clearing called for in the goals set by the forestry department.’
    • ‘This is the time to be planning for quick removal of the residue and an early burn to allow good regrowth going into the winter.’
    1. 3.1 An area of land cleared by burning vegetation.
      • ‘She says that their land extends to about an acre, with a burn running through it.’
      • ‘Included in the northern part of that burn was a wildlife area known as Volcan Mountain.’
      • ‘Davis, who has written extensively about the dangers of our fire ecology, is well-acquainted with the burn area.’
      • ‘Enclosed is a check for 1,000 wonderful trees to be planted in a burn area in his memory.’
      • ‘Outside, most of the grounds are grassland, bordered to the south by a burn with the gardens mainly lawn.’
      • ‘There can be too much of a good thing, however - burn areas with heavier snow packs are susceptible to avalanche.’
      • ‘Amber Kamps has been busy surveying burn areas to determine where there is a need to plant trees.’
      • ‘Harsh, high-elevation burn areas provide excellent seedbeds for this species.’
      • ‘Elko's Joseph says any wood coming from a burn area to his mill will be visually inspected at the scales while on the truck.’
      • ‘Still, there is no planned environmental assessment of the proposed burn area, and the endangered sage grouse is still at risk.’
  • 4British informal A cigarette.

    • ‘I just sat there, having a burn, dressed to go home.’


  • be burned at the stake

    • historical Be executed by being tied to a stake and publicly burned alive, typically for alleged heresy or witchcraft.

      • ‘You know, back in the 1400s, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy.’
      • ‘If anyone deserves to be burned at the stake in a public place, this is the man.’
      • ‘Some refused to change and they were burned at the stake for heresy.’
      • ‘Others did not succeed in staying out of harm's way, like Marguerite Porete, who was burned at the stake for heresy.’
      • ‘If she came out alive she was burned at the stake.’
      • ‘On May 30, 1431 she was executed in the most ghastly way, she was burned at the stake in the Rouen marketplace.’
      • ‘After being captured and brought before a church court, her belief that she had been inspired by heavenly visions led to charges of heresy and led to her being burned at the stake in 1431.’
      • ‘Joan lifted a siege and went on to offer the hope of freedom for her country before being burned at the stake for alleged witchcraft.’
      • ‘If you didn't repent, you were garroted and burned at the stake; if you did repent, well, then you got off easy: you were burned at the stake but kept alive.’
      • ‘In 1600 after a seven-year trial for heresy he was burned at the stake at Campo de Fiori in Rome for refusing to recant.’
  • burn one's bridges

    • Do something which makes it impossible to return to an earlier state.

      • ‘The young Culpeper had irrevocably burnt his bridges as far as returning to Cambridge and completing his training to be a Minister was concerned; the study of medicine was likewise denied to him.’
      • ‘We're absolutely appalled; these people have burned their bridges with us for good.’
      • ‘A move to Coventry during the 1995-96 season fell flat for Jess, leading to a return back to Aberdeen before ‘burning his bridges’ with his outspoken comments last year.’
      • ‘A with-profits annuity is one way of buying a pension without completely burning your boats.’
      • ‘So I've officially burnt my bridges with old/non-compatible browsers now… a minute's silence please…’
      • ‘Stabbing me right then was the thought that we had burnt our boats on this quest to return to my roots (my great-grandfather had left Italy for England at the height of the industrial revolution) after 25 years of London life.’
      • ‘They weren't stupid enough to burn their bridges so kept me involved in the album, which I am eternally grateful for because it paid for my studio.’
      • ‘However, until you are sure, it is best not to burn your boats.’
      • ‘I'm thankful I could do that without burning my bridges at Rangers and everyone, from the chairman to the coaches, was honest and straight with me throughout my move.’
      • ‘There, we found all trains were terminating at Skipton and having burned our boats behind us so to speak we took a chance.’
  • burn the candle at both ends

    • Go to bed late and get up early.

      • ‘In my mad attempt to get everything done I had been burning the candle at both ends, staying up too late and getting up too early.’
      • ‘Then again, it may be that he associates the night-time feel of lightbulbs with those early, art student days of burning the candle at both ends and wallowing in the newness of creativity.’
      • ‘I had been burning the candle at both ends, I hadn't slept well all term.’
      • ‘Because I am currently burning the candle at both ends, got home and made my bread, left it to rise, and made my Moroccan dried fruit salad.’
      • ‘All week I've been burning the candle at both ends: by day, taking care of the kids and preparing for a workshop I was to teach, and by night, playing four-hour shows at a casino with my band.’
      • ‘I haven't heard the final mixes yet as we decided against burning the candle at both ends, but it was pretty clear that the big star of the day turned out to be the Francoise song.’
      • ‘A few of Celtic's players also looked like they had been burning the candle at both ends, despite a preceding midweek for once devoid of a fixture.’
      • ‘And burnout came up in multiple sessions - we were warned that constantly burning the candle at both ends would leave us frustrated, unhappy and ineffective.’
      • ‘So, and - I just realized recently that I am burning the candle at both ends and it's very difficult and I am going to take a little bit of time off.’
      • ‘I've been burning the candle at both ends since at least early summer, and it's time to take a breather.’
  • burn a hole in someone's pocket

    • (of money) tempt someone to spend it quickly and extravagantly.

      • ‘So, with money burning a hole in my pocket, we drove down to Stockbridge to visit Addictive Arts.’
      • ‘Of course, that won't stop an impulsive buyer with money burning a hole in their pocket from overpaying.’
      • ‘It'd be nice to think that some rich person with money burning a hole in their pocket wants to give me some money to help keep me going, but I tend to be realistic.’
      • ‘It's like being on holiday, with money burning a hole in your pocket and all sorts of new places to go and things to try out.’
      • ‘However, for those folks with money burning a hole in their pocket, here are a few good sites where you can add to your book collection.’
      • ‘Now every other guy with money burning a hole in his pocket will follow suit, and the prices shoot up.’
      • ‘The counter argument is that one or two people with a unique motivation, that are uninformed or with money burning a hole in their pocket, can determine the price of an auction.’
      • ‘One September day in 1989 I found myself standing inside a shop with money burning a hole in my pocket.’
      • ‘Are you a teenager with money burning a hole in his pocket or are you a conservative adult?’
      • ‘This instant money is cause for concern - if you have a problem with money burning a hole in your pocket.’
  • burn the midnight oil

    • Read or work late into the night.

      • ‘However, she may decide to burn the midnight oil with some more reading.’
      • ‘So, I burned the midnight oil to finish this last night.’
      • ‘Although this is a little daunting at first blush, it's exciting, too, because there are a finite number of these jobs that we're responsible for and, if we get enough of them now, we might not be burning the midnight oil around the holidays.’
      • ‘The City Police have burnt the midnight oil to study the FIRs (First Information Reports) of various accidents in the city in the recent past and selected the spots where accidents are frequent and fatal.’
      • ‘This is a community recreation center, complete with television and even a computer room where just a year ago people would be burning the midnight oil, literally, reading and writing.’
      • ‘Certainly they have worked hard to sort out the mess but at their rate of pay they'd want to be burning the midnight oil every night.’
      • ‘I was burning the midnight oil yesterday night to finish this.’
      • ‘They were burning the midnight oil last night, the engineers going over this captured data.’
      • ‘If they burnt the midnight oil, it is certainly for a great cause, he says.’
      • ‘I collected all details about the software, and burnt the midnight oil to evolve ‘Mastermind’, which works on logic and illusion,’ he explains.’
  • go for the burn

    • informal Push one's body to extremes when doing physical exercise.

      • ‘Sweating rows of people working out, pumping iron, frantically cycling on static bikes going nowhere - all of them looked tense and stressed as they aimed to fulfil the axiom ‘no pain no gain’ by ‘going for the burn’.’
      • ‘Yoga is not about ‘going for the burn,’ experts agree.’
      • ‘Once you've made a full recovery, go for the burn with fat-blasting ab crunches and leg-sculpting lunges.’
      • ‘Her passion for junk food and her loathing of most forms of go for the burn exercise was what gave her the body of an elephant, and Mia a body to die for!’
      • ‘Houston will generally do a drop set (cutting back on the weight) of 12 more reps at the end to go for the burn.’
      • ‘When it comes alleviating depression, it's not at all necessary to go for the burn.’
      • ‘Beginners should wait longer, but more-advanced gymgoers should go for the burn, waiting only 30 seconds between sets.’
      • ‘I like going for the burn and feeling like I've had a good old workout.’
      • ‘If you're more energetic, go for the burn in a state-of-the-art gymnasium or on one of the three indoor tennis courts.’
      • ‘It's not only unnecessary to go for the burn, it's unwise; too-vigorous exercise raises the risk of stopping altogether.’
  • have something to burn

    • Possess something in great abundance.

      ‘this is the place to shop if you have money to burn’
      • ‘We have quite a few hours to burn; what do you want to do?’
      • ‘I would say watching a film together is fine when you have infinite time to burn.’
      • ‘Now, I have time to burn on such exploits.’
      • ‘Even if I did have cash to burn, I wouldn't trade it in for a make-over any day.’
      • ‘I've thought over the years that I would like to have a daily paper, if I had money to burn.’
      • ‘This production has talent to burn.’
      • ‘She had ideas to burn, and in the fast, new, modern world everything was up for grabs.’
      • ‘If you've got money to burn, see it at the cinema.’
      • ‘It doesn't hurt that Edwards has charm and charisma to burn.’
      • ‘With holiday bills still clobbering your credit-card balances and income taxes coming up soon, who has the money to burn for an expensive spring break?’
  • a slow burn

    • informal A state of slowly mounting anger or annoyance.

      • ‘Instead of the choppy war scenes that escalate the tension towards the end of the play, there is a slow burn, Macbeth waiting ominously on stage throughout as his world spins and collapses around him.’
      • ‘He slunk back a few inches, then remembered Gail, with a slow burn of anger that swept through his soul and demanded vengeance.’
      • ‘You know, it could be one of those insignificant cases that he's prosecuted in the past, where, you know, somebody does a slow burn.’
      • ‘The attacker was a older looking male with eyes that seemed to be as empty as he felt, the darkness that she felt ate away at her mind like a slow burn.’
      • ‘When I reach retirement age, and there isn't anything left, no doubt I'll look back on those buses with a slow burn of annoyance, as I fry up a can of cat food.’
      • ‘Yesterday, sources close to the task force said investigators did a slow burn after Ridgway told them the letter was from him.’
      • ‘The fact is, indemnity or hold-harmless clauses can make consumers do a slow burn when accidents occur.’
      • ‘I'm with New Kid in having nothing to say other than a slow burn.’
      • ‘I've begun a slow burn on this issue: I think schools are getting way too excited about technology.’
      • ‘Some news stories hit you straight away - others have a slow burn.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • burn something down (or burn down)

    • (with reference to a building or structure) destroy or be destroyed completely by fire.

      • ‘Later, the shelf caught on fire and nearly burned the whole building down.’
      • ‘But when the slums are burnt down to raise high rise buildings, they are completely quiet, they don't protest.’
      • ‘It stopped a fire in seconds which would have burnt a building down in two minutes,’ he added.’
      • ‘You know, fire will burn a building down, but water will seek its level and touch everything on a specific piece of ground.’
      • ‘We believe this was an attempt to burn the building down and are calling on the police to take action and patrol the area more.’
      • ‘In one of his drunken stupors, he lights their house on fire and burns it down.’
      • ‘The explosion and fire burned his house down, killing both him and his sister.’
      • ‘If they refused, or if their records were not found, whole buildings might be burned down.’
      • ‘Eighty-four public buildings have been burned down.’
      • ‘I don't have any fire extinguishers here, so try not to burn the house down.’
  • burn something into

    • Brand or imprint (something) with an image by burning.

      ‘designs are burnt into the skin’
      figurative ‘a childhood incident that was burnt into her memory’
      • ‘The image of those haunting eyes had been burned in his memory.’
      • ‘The images would be burned in her mind for as long as she was alive.’
      • ‘In his hand the flesh was burnt and blistered, for a mark had been burnt in, three circles inside each other with a triangle in the middle.’
      • ‘Once she has formed her ‘feelers,’ she then burns the pattern into the copperplate by heating its underside.’
      • ‘My visions were always accompanied by mind - numbing pain, which burnt the image into my mind's eye.’
      • ‘Other efforts to burn an image into consumers' psyche is last year's rollout of Bolivar, named for South American liberator Simon Bolivar.’
      • ‘He explains how his art expression began when he picked up a hot poker and burned images into a wood board.’
      • ‘The TV series ‘Baretta’ made Robert Blake a household name and burned his tough-guy image into the public's brain.’
      • ‘We also have a chest of tools and do some pyrography, burning images into wood, and we also do woodturning.’
      • ‘I was aware of a strange sense of wanting to prolong this moment and of concentrating on every second of it, in an attempt to burn it into my memory forever.’
  • burn something off

    • Remove a substance using heat.

      ‘use a blowlamp to burn off the paint’
      • ‘However, at 10 am, a man with a blow torch is burning the lines off and at 3pm, the lines have all gone.’
      • ‘But two days later, workers were back to burn the yellow paint off the road, after it was discovered they had been painted in error.’
      • ‘The heat burned the paint off the walls and, Chicca realized later, most of the hair from his head and face.’
      • ‘And in the light of day, feel no regrets that you have burnt the paint off the sides of your barbecue and voided the manufacturer's limited warranty.’
      • ‘And last Sunday morning, nine days after the lines were painted, workmen came back and burnt them off again.’
  • burn out

    • 1Cease to function as a result of excessive heat or friction.

      ‘the clutch had burned out’
      • ‘Props fall off, clutches burn out, pumps seize, demand valves free-flow.’
      • ‘Three days later he got a second SMS saying that she had got as far as Parys but her clutch had burnt out and could he let her have R800 more for the repairs.’
      • ‘That was early in the race and normally when a clutch slips it will burn out, but that wasn't the case because he was able to finish and restart OK.’
      • ‘The first successful light bulbs marketed by Edison in the 1880s produced so much heat that they burnt out very rapidly.’
      • ‘Measures like this ensure the chip will not burn out as it heats up from use.’
      • ‘Hartge warned me not to push it hard everywhere, as the brakes would burn out faster than a Big Brother loser's media career.’
      • ‘There have been cases where the attempted power drain proved too much, and the power supply burnt out; other times, you'll just find the card doesn't work.’
      • ‘Soon his main engine burned out, shooting sparks all over Titty and giving her third degree electrical burns.’
    • 2Ruin one's health or become completely exhausted through overwork.

      ‘doing one task for too long can cause you to burn out’
      ‘a burned-out undercover cop’
      • ‘I think we spent a lot of time trying to convince tired and burned out staff that this is a good idea, instead of convincing the people who really should make the decisions.’
      • ‘She had died at the age of 45 from exhaustion, burnt out by the hardships of life.’
      • ‘Sadly, many of the good ones burn out early because they get tired of dealing with the dregs of corporate life, whiners and complainers from all levels of the organization.’
      • ‘Bruce Dern adds another dimension to the movie as Tom the burnt out Vietnam vet - you'll never dismiss street people again - though I'm sure you don't anyway, do you?’
      • ‘Every cop felt it, and that's why many burned out.’
      • ‘The people who are really sensitive and try to deal with the maelstrom around them as individual humans are great, but often burn out early in their careers.’
      • ‘Five albums, several smashes, a few misses and a new band member later and many of their early contemporaries have either burnt out or given into the ravages of time.’
      • ‘Mentally ill people burn out and cease to be creative.’
      • ‘But for a burned out cop like Mitch, it was just what the proverbial doctor had ordered.’
      • ‘Rather than improving technique, burned out dancers may report debilitating fatigue, loss of enthusiasm, and injuries.’
      work too hard, work like a horse, work like a slave, work like a trojan, run oneself into the ground, work oneself into the ground, wear oneself to a shadow, work one's fingers to the bone, drive oneself into the ground, sweat, sweat blood, work day and night, burn the candle at both ends, burn the midnight oil, overtax oneself, overtax one's strength, kill oneself, do too much, overdo it, strain oneself, overburden oneself, overload oneself, drive oneself too hard, push oneself too hard
      View synonyms
  • burn someone out

    • Make someone homeless by destroying their home by fire.

      ‘he and his family had been burned out of their house’
      • ‘When we moved four years ago, we were in desperate need of a place because we had been burned out of our old house.’
      • ‘I'll guarantee you that our Lord Steward doesn't know I have it, else he'd be burning me out of house and home.’
      • ‘When that happened, said Nomani, ‘I quoted Sojourner Truth when she said, ‘If they burn us out, then I shall preach upon the ashes.’’
      • ‘When it burned him out of his home in 1791 no public outcry ensued.’
      • ‘She was burned out of her house and her relatives killed in front of her.’
      • ‘The phosphorus from the smoke shells burned us out.’
      • ‘They tried to blow her up, to burn her out, to foreclose on her mortgage.’
  • burn something out

    • Completely destroy a building or vehicle by fire, so that only a shell remains.

      • ‘She claimed that at least four cars had been burned out over recent months in the village.’
      • ‘Over the past week, a number of cars have been burned out and premises vandalised in the local industrial estate where nine companies ply their trade.’
      • ‘During the riots of 2001 at least 5 Oldham pubs were burned out by firebombs.’
      • ‘In the picturesque village of Slovnje, dozens of homes have been burned out.’
      • ‘Several bins on the street are being destroyed every weekend, people are getting up on Sunday morning and finding that their property has been burnt out, one angry resident told the Kildare Nationalist.’
      • ‘He was abducted by four masked men and driven to the remote townland of Lyracrumpane, where he was beaten up and left stranded after his car was burnt out.’
      • ‘A shop was set alight, 25 cars were burnt out and two police officers were injured.’
      • ‘The top two floors are burnt out and the roof's gone.’
      • ‘Yesterday morning the Coach House pub car park was still full - but the eight cars were burnt out and only police forensic officers were allowed into the bar.’
      • ‘Members of a family have to live in three different areas of the city, all because their home is burnt out, declared Alderman Pat Kennedy to the city council.’
  • burn up

    • 1(of a fire) produce brighter and stronger flames.

      • ‘There are three major fires burning up there with smoke going high into the sky, and just beside us here, an oil tanker is well on fire.’
      • ‘He quickly pulled the match head across the strip, a flame quickly burning up on that very tip.’
      • ‘‘I think we may get the fire to burn up again,’ he added, throwing some logs upon the embers.’
    • 2(of an object entering the earth's atmosphere) be destroyed by heat.

      • ‘The Foton-M2 service module was hereafter separated from the re-entry module and, as planned, burnt up in Earth's atmosphere.’
      • ‘The new estimate stems from observations of fireballs from extraterrestrial objects of a certain size that burned up in Earth's atmosphere between February 1994 and September 2002.’
      • ‘The craft drop debris at just the right height to ensure that it will fall back to Earth relatively quickly and burn up in the atmosphere.’
      • ‘When you considering how many meteors burn up on entering our atmosphere it's obvious that if even the tiniest little thing goes wrong with the heat protection then it's curtains.’
      • ‘Most meteorites travelling towards earth burn up in the atmosphere, but it's estimated that on average, one does make it through each week.’
  • burn someone up

    • Make someone very angry.

      • ‘Rather dumbfounded, I said, ‘What burns you up?’’
      • ‘It burns me up to figure that I spent nearly $300 buying the entire Police Quest series when I could have waited and got all of them for $50.’
      • ‘Nothing burns me up more than to see a rich, white, educated defendant walk out of the courthouse on bail when a minority defendant who did the same thing is under the jail.’
      • ‘Censorship burns me up, and I wish that anime distributors were required to state up front that the content has been censored.’
      • ‘Does it burn you up that you have to pay a $100 fee just to reschedule your flight, while the airline owes you nothing if they're the ones who make a schedule change?’
      • ‘But anyway, that kind of thing burned me up.’
      • ‘It burns you up that I march through life with laughter in my heart!’
      • ‘But then there are other women in the group who… burn me up.’
      • ‘During this election season, it burns me up that Republicans and Democrats can't talk about poverty here in the U.S. and shrinking government services to the poor.’
      • ‘I hate him for what he put you through when we were kids, and for him to kidnap you and hurt you again… it burns me up!’


Old English birnan ‘be on fire’ and bærnan ‘consume by fire’, both from the same Germanic base; related to German brennen.




Main definitions of burn in English

: burn1burn2



Scottish, Northern English
  • A small stream.

    • ‘Make sure you are casting where saltwater meets the fresh of a burn, stream or river.’
    • ‘They came to a house close by a waterfalling burn, turned now to a frozen fountain.’
    • ‘Second, it would be entirely powered and supplied by the natural flow of water from the loch and the burn.’
    • ‘The burn contained surface water from a nearby outfall that could be contaminated with sewage, as well as animal faeces from farms.’
    • ‘Several small burns rushing towards the river are easily crossed, and the vegetation is symbolic of marshy land, with bog myrtle plentiful.’
    • ‘A firebreak follows a tributary burn, the Shiel Rig Burn, and this leads onto the grassy west ridge of Shalloch on Minnoch.’
    • ‘Energy levels so much higher than normal, feel like jumping into the nearest burn and swimming upstream.’
    • ‘The Lawers Burn issues from the lochan and legend has it that an outlawed Macgregor once hid in a cave behind a waterfall of the burn.’
    • ‘Rivers and burns became torrents and turned the colour of pus.’
    • ‘In England, for instance, the words brook, burn, and beck show broad regional distribution.’
    • ‘The only significant natural damaging action, in the current climate, is erosion by topographically canalised rain water, mostly confined to becks and burns.’
    • ‘Acid rain from industrial pollution has killed off fish life in around 300 miles of rivers and burns in south-west Scotland.’
    • ‘However, that healthy little fella was safely returned, hopefully to make it up the burn come winter and subsequently add to the gene pool.’
    • ‘Higher up the path crosses the burn and heads steeply up to the summit of An Cabar.’
    • ‘The following weeks should see these brave fish reach their spawning redds on the little burns in the hills, having battled all the way from the feeding grounds of the North Atlantic.’
    • ‘From the headwaters of the burn it was a fairly straightforward climb over heather slopes to Mholach's rocky peak - but it was dark by the time I reached the big summit cairn.’
    • ‘Using the terrain, we move up the banks of a small burn, hidden from view, the stream's noise masking ours.’
    • ‘The hill burns are torrents of water and the main river a chocolate flood.’
    • ‘The Scottish Environment Protection Agency express concern about a salmon farm being sited so close to a burn which has a healthy wild trout population.’
    • ‘The burn was a torrent and though a couple of small herling were caught where the frothing, peat-stained water met with the salt of the sea, no fish of any size were showing.’


Old English burna, burn(e), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bron and German Brunnen ‘well’.