Definition of burnish in English:



[with object]usually as adjective burnished
  • 1Polish (something, especially metal) by rubbing.

    ‘highly burnished armour’
    • ‘The inside of the pot could also be burnished with a smooth pebble or bone to smear the clay particles over each other producing a more watertight vessel.’
    • ‘Water gilding allows the object to be burnished to achieve a polished, shining surface.’
    • ‘When dry, the gold is burnished with a hooked or rounded tool called a burnisher.’
    • ‘On shelves and bookcases around the flat I could see antique spanners, old sextants, shiny brass things, burnished steel telescopes.’
    • ‘The motifs lie upon luminous fields of pale color that shift between shades of rose and burnished gold.’
    • ‘The box was fashioned of antique burnished rosewood, with brass cylinders and myriad bells all working in perfectly refined unison.’
    • ‘The graphite is readily removed during polishing and in this case the cavities can be either burnished over or enlarged.’
    • ‘For nearly 30 years Olive Cox burnished the brass and kept St Peter's Church in Little Cheverell spick and span.’
    • ‘His armor, once immaculately burnished gold, was now tarnished and dented in a dozen locations.’
    • ‘The narrow and steep stone steps in the pagoda have been burnished and made very smooth.’
    • ‘The telltale blue of their family eyes was gone, and in its place was a deep burnished gold.’
    • ‘Typically pierced handles and covers were decorated with different shades of matte or burnished gold, or with bronze luster.’
    • ‘It was burnished silver, and the eyes of the dragon were indeed tiny emeralds, and the dragon's teeth were made of ivory.’
    • ‘Sunlight tracked a path of sparkling white highlights toward the skyline, a light as harsh as if it were reflecting off burnished metal.’
    • ‘Their armor was burnished bright red, and black capes swung over the shoulders and flapped in the light breeze.’
    • ‘The inside of the elevator had burnished steel paneling, and the buttons were made of plastic.’
    • ‘Carefully unwrapping it, she found the hint of dull gold and burnished it on her shirt, the small ruby at the end of the key twinkling in the yellow sunlight.’
    • ‘She has a vision of her cattery, its concrete floors burnished like metal.’
    • ‘It is well burnished and/or polished and, based on its core colors, had been incompletely oxidized during its firing.’
    • ‘In her hand she held a single leaf, burnished gold by the autumnal winds.’
    polish, polish up, shine, brighten, rub down, rub up, buff, buff up, smooth, glaze
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Enhance or improve.
      ‘a man who took advantage of any opportunity to burnish his image’
      • ‘It's fitting, since Mickelson, 34, has done more than any other golfer to burnish his image as a family guy - and it's bringing in the bucks.’
      • ‘Well, he was concerned with burnishing his image, the work that he has done over the last seven years, and, as you say, he feels he's left the intelligence community much stronger than he found it.’
      • ‘In vain the Communists tried to burnish their image, formally abandoning the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat at their twenty-second party congress in February 1976.’
      • ‘Sounds like he's more interested in burnishing his own image.’
      • ‘Bonds hasn't exactly burnished his image, either.’
      • ‘The book, it seems, has burnished Howe's reputation brighter than ever.’
      • ‘We don't use force just to burnish our reputation or to enhance our credibility.’
      • ‘I suspect that Malcolm is burnishing his image by carefully creating a colorful persona.’
      • ‘Her rust red hair fell in a cascade of ringlets that were burnished gold by the kiss of the sun.’
      • ‘For many who desire to burnish their image, money is no object.’
      • ‘Anxious for a return on the investment and for results that may burnish the image of its performance, the Government has advertised an impressive list of the airship's capabilities.’
      • ‘It not only burnished the family image but was also his one surpassing business triumph.’
      • ‘It's about people burnishing and polishing their self-images and their conceptions of how they're regarded by their fellow Man.’
      • ‘The more you yearn to launch a war, the more you must strive to burnish your image as someone who craves peace.’
      • ‘As long as people have a good time, as long as the community is burnished with an extra polishing of fellow feeling, an event is successful, right?’
      • ‘But he intended not merely to burnish that bulldog image, but to vindicate a much grander and somewhat shakier claim to being the architect of total victory over Nazi Germany.’
      • ‘It also bought car-freak Rivera the simultaneous opportunities to burnish business ties and score a speed fix for himself.’
      • ‘They have thought constantly about each other, but will the real person live up to the idealized image that was burnished into their minds for ten years?’


  • The shine on a highly polished surface.

    • ‘It provides operators a cost-effective way to use a combination blade to hard finish concrete floors without any burnish marks.’
    • ‘By the time Israel Zangwill's play of that name was published in 1908, the ‘melting pot’ had acquired all the burnish of an American ideal.’
    • ‘And beyond the glitter of opulence, it must also glow with the burnish of remembrance, light up with the luster of nostalgia.’
    • ‘She wiped them off and underneath the furry tendrils of dust, the burnish of the old polish still gleamed.’
    • ‘These blades will not leave any burnish marks on a new floor and are suitable for both floating and finishing.’
    • ‘The burnish on her medal had begun to fade, and Gunnell had missed her story.’
    • ‘‘Look for coatings with a high degree of burnish resistance to stand up to routine cleaning,’ says Rafie.’
    shine, sheen, lustre, gleam, patina, shininess, glossiness, brightness, brilliance, shimmer, sparkle
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French burniss-, lengthened stem of burnir, variant of brunir ‘make brown’, from brun ‘brown’.