Definition of torch in English:

torch

noun

  • 1British A portable battery-powered electric lamp.

    • ‘The characters are mostly in modern dress, but still fight with swords, even while lighting their way with battery-powered torches.’
    • ‘Kingston shoppers took heed of advice given on the Home Office website last week to stockpile battery-powered torches, radios, food and bottled water.’
    • ‘Electricity showrooms in the borough were swamped with calls about the scheduled power cuts and at the same time coped with a booming demand for torches, lamps and batteries.’
    • ‘There are no batteries for electrical instruments like torches, ophthalmoscopes and laryngoscopes.’
    • ‘They expect to be underground for several days and are taking more than a hundred batteries to power their torches.’
    • ‘The batteries in our torch expired and we hadn't any candles.’
    • ‘Whipped by heavy rain, hundreds of police, military and civilian workers used shovels and electric torches to comb through the smoking wreckage.’
    • ‘I've got some new batteries for my torch and as soon as it's dark enough, I'll be out in the garden…’
    • ‘The small, plastic yellow gun is powered by a battery, includes a torch to light up the target and almost looks like a child's toy.’
    • ‘If a group of boys was reportedly disappeared carrying candles, threads and electric torches, they would certainly be found in the dripping caves.’
    • ‘They advise households to have on hand a torch, battery-powered radio, ready-to-eat food, bottled water and blankets.’
    • ‘I also took lots of matches, in case we ran out, and an electric torch.’
    • ‘It looked impressive, but the light from the battery-operated torch bulb-lit lanterns could have been brighter to enable them to stand out better in the darkness.’
    • ‘Why did the male chorus have huge electric torches that they shone out over the audience?’
    • ‘The British Home Office has issued advice to households to stock up on bottled water, tinned food, torches and a battery powered radio.’
    • ‘Finding people was almost impossible, it was dark by this point, though the street lamps and people's torches were illuminating things unevenly.’
    • ‘With temperatures below zero and icy roads many people were unable to get into the village for supplies of candles, batteries for torches etc.’
    • ‘Presentation College lit an electrical torch across the border last week when they started a project with a school in Ballymena.’
    • ‘Retailer Radio Shack said it was also seeing increased demand for two-way radios, emergency batteries and torches.’
    • ‘The public should stock up on tinned food, bottled water and have a battery-powered torch and radio, the Home Office advised last night.’
    lamp, light, flashlight, beacon
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    1. 1.1historical A portable means of illumination such as a piece of wood or cloth soaked in tallow and ignited, sometimes carried ceremonially.
      • ‘When one diver climbed up to the top of the 25-metre tower, he was ignited by a torch and was covered instantly in flames.’
      • ‘Caroline and Sara went down into the vault with Talmegar leading the way, carrying a torch with which he lit the other torches along the wall.’
      • ‘They were led downward by a high position royal guard carrying a torch to light the way.’
      • ‘The ogoh-ogoh, escorted by groups of people carrying bamboo torches and a loud gamelan ensemble, are paraded on the night before Nyepi.’
      • ‘A small table sat in the middle of a dimly lit room, candles and torches providing barely enough illumination for the six seated men to see.’
      • ‘The moon helped out by shining brightly, while the 70 visitors carried torches and lanterns.’
      • ‘In celebration of the centenary year of the school, past prefects carrying Olympic torches will run from school to the stadium.’
      • ‘Eight o'clock at night in the alpine darkness and we had just skied a frozen slope carrying flaming torches to light the way.’
      • ‘The colourful cloth and the cardboard piece that symbolised the torch of the statue made the model look appealing.’
      • ‘Several of them carried burning torches and I had a flash of old horror films, the mob of villagers going after the mad scientist and his monster.’
      • ‘Without another word or look, Michael grabbed one of the pieces of wood and made a torch out of it.’
      • ‘As a police helicopter thundered overhead, many of the demonstrators carried flaming torches and sounded klaxons and blew horns to make their point.’
      • ‘Observe the gleam of the soldiers' swords by the light of the torches used for illumination and setting villages ablaze.’
      • ‘He also choreographed the dance piece for the ceremony of lighting the torch at the courthouse steps and later in Dublin at the Point Depot.’
      • ‘In Patan and Bhaktapur, the students marched in the streets carrying torches symbolizing violence, according to witnesses.’
      • ‘Flashlights and torches provide just enough illumination to see the creatures in all their oddness.’
      • ‘We took off our sandals, and two of the bissu carried burning torches to light our way.’
      • ‘Both bore two torches made of grease-soaked cloth wrapped around long slivers of wood.’
      • ‘He seemed to be in some kind of cave, the light coming from torches carried by hooded figures in dark robes.’
      • ‘In pre-strike protests Saturday, students ignored government orders not to march in streets carrying burning torches.’
      firebrand, brand
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    2. 1.2in singular Used to refer to a valuable quality, principle, or cause, which needs to be protected and maintained.
      ‘mountain warlords carried the torch of Greek independence’
      • ‘Once a year we pay homage to those who have served and especially those who have fallen, but do we really understand what it means to keep the faith or to take the torch from failing hands?’
      • ‘With only a little more than a year in the Army Reserve, Baker has now become the bearer of the military service torch in his family.’
      • ‘Others view Poland as the suffering Christ among nations raising the torch of liberty and independence for themselves and others.’
      • ‘She not only carried the torch of educating young women, but she passed it on.’
      • ‘Deller's theme is that the values of all fundamental religions are essentially materialistic, which leaves art carrying the torch for the spiritually minded.’
      • ‘Picking up the torch of the golden age, the CFL proves that a sports league where no one is in it for the money can thrive in an entertainment-jaded age.’
      • ‘By August 31st, this important literary torch will pass from poet to poet.’
      • ‘DJ's got a baseball game, so I expect the other coalition members to carry the torch while I'm gone.’
      • ‘It's the same story across Canada, where now and always, the junior leagues carry the torch for the spirit of hockey in small towns and big cities alike.’
      • ‘He is married with four children, one of whom, Zoe, has picked up the educational torch and is now a teacher in Chiseldon.’
  • 2North American A blowlamp.

    • ‘In addition to this, wire cutters, torches, chainsaws, axes, etc. can come in handy.’
    • ‘Armed with pitch forks, torches, and stakes; the men planned to overwhelm the vampire until he was struck down.’
    • ‘Stonefist had armed himself with throwing axes, his battleaxe, a torch, and a tower shield.’
  • 3US informal An arsonist.

verb

[WITH OBJECT]informal
  • Set fire to.

    ‘the shops had been looted and torched’
    • ‘A hard lesson for new film-makers to learn is that when you've got style to burn, you might just end up torching other important stuff if you aren't careful.’
    • ‘Of course, normally we don't go around torching automobiles, because the owners of those automobiles would be angry, and we would be arrested, and our friends would look at us funny.’
    • ‘I teach the same groups how to light fires - kids who may have torched vehicles often don't know how to keep a real fire going.’
    • ‘Later, it was torched by an angry critic who, having set light to the structure, could not escape, and died in the flames he had lit.’
    • ‘The expense would be the equivalent of getting a brand new car and just torching it.’
    • ‘Hundreds of Shi'ite youths set fire to two police vehicles and a petrol station outside the mosque and then ransacked two government offices, stealing furniture and torching it at a traffic intersection.’
    • ‘A man accused of conspiring to murder a security guard was later seen suffering facial burns in line with having torched a car, a jury heard.’
    • ‘There were also reports of indiscriminate firing by suspected militants for almost 20 minutes after torching the Dimasa dominated village.’
    • ‘Mainstream media reports have tended to emphasise the violence of protesters, highlighting images of masked men smashing windows, throwing rocks and torching cars.’
    • ‘Small numbers of music fans set fire to tents, but organisers insisted people had only torched their own belongings.’
    • ‘By 5pm that day, after Mayday calls went unanswered, they were forced to abandon ship, torching the wheelhouse as a last-ditch smoke signal and praying it would be seen.’
    • ‘Her sister's car was also torched in nearby Nunthorpe Gardens during the fire spree last week.’
    • ‘Billy wasted no time in firing off the main cannon, and torching the Pirate ship.’
    • ‘A Ste Anne-area man convicted of torching his own property nearly a year ago is taking his insurance company to court, claiming it has treated him unfairly.’
    • ‘A chef from Chippenham could face a jail term after torching the car of his ex-partner's new lover and threatening to kill him.’
    • ‘Those near the gates were torched by the rain of fire that came from the explosion.’
    • ‘Then guerrillas stormed the station, killing 16 policemen, looting weapons, releasing detainees and torching several cars.’
    • ‘Then, in 1993, she was caught in the act of torching a neighbor's home in Ajo, Arizona, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.’
    • ‘The car behind the fire station used for training purposes was torched around 1pm.’
    • ‘Rioters are torching businesses, and cars, and trucks.’
    burn, set fire to, set on fire, set light to, set alight, incinerate, ignite, kindle, put a match to, set a match to, light, start, touch off
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Phrases

  • carry a torch for

    • Suffer from unrequited love for.

      ‘he was carrying a torch for the local strawberry blonde’
      • ‘Will's fiancée Fi still loves him, but has taken up with Rob, an American soldier; Henry, we soon realise, also carries a torch for Fi.’
      • ‘Because you're literally and figuratively always carrying a torch for me, silly.’
      • ‘The midfielder is not exactly carrying a torch for his old manager but, for all the woe in his time in Scotland, he says he was a fan and still is.’
      • ‘John continued to carry a torch for my mom, though, even three years into her marriage, and after I was born.’
      • ‘English poet Wordsworth carried a torch for his sister Dorothy.’
      • ‘Throughout the series, Carrie carries a torch for the smoothly elegant, rich, and powerful businessman, but he is a man who ‘won't commit.’’
      • ‘I carried a torch for that guy for years and should he read this he would know who he is!’
      • ‘Catherine discovers she still carries a torch for her old love, but that's only one of the complications as Catherine deals with past hurts and potential romance.’
      • ‘Old flames often have a way of reappearing just when you're carrying a torch for someone new.’
      • ‘Nowadays, those who still carry a torch for this composer cut down in his prime fondly call him SCT.’
      • ‘Just as he still carries a torch for the gladioli-strewing hero of his adolescence, Maxwell doesn't quite seem ready to grow up.’
      • ‘Maybe the mother still carries a torch for her child's father and is jealous of his new woman.’
      • ‘He knew that Steven still carried a torch for his former love.’
      • ‘Bulloch's time may be up with Scotland, but he plans to continue carrying a torch for the national game.’
      • ‘A secret asset of New York City is that it houses thousands of sweet people who carry a torch for classic pop culture; they are curators by vocation if not by career.’
      • ‘But while the old peace movement carried a torch for Britain, today's protesters are defined by their lack of faith in Britain's political leaders and institutions.’
      • ‘As it turns out, Aaron wasn't the only person to have been carrying a torch for Laura.’
      • ‘I can really relate to the title character, as I know what it's like to carry a torch for someone and have those affections go unrequited.’
      • ‘I will always carry a torch for classy early 80s shop-girl funk like this.’
      • ‘A few months later I fell in love with this friend and carried a torch for him for years, but he would never have me (the nerve).’
  • put to the torch (or put a torch to)

    • Destroy by burning.

      ‘heretics were put to the torch’
      • ‘Following the battle of Clonegal which was fought on July 29, 1650, the houses on both sides of the street were put to the torch and the homes of Moyacomb Meadow are the first houses to have been built there since.’
      • ‘You wanted to take a break in 2019 to save your damnable American Constitution from being put to the torch by Ali's legions.’
      • ‘This small village, like so much of the Duchy, has been put to the torch as recently as a couple years ago, perhaps sooner.’
      • ‘Camulodunum, which had yet to receive defences, was overwhelmed, and put to the torch.’
      • ‘The guests examined the narcotics and tested the heroin with chemical-testing kits before the drugs were put to the torch.’
      • ‘Not so long ago they watched a neighbouring farm being put to the torch.’
      • ‘Once you've put a torch to something you've put firescale on it and will have to remove it in a ‘pickle bath.’’
      • ‘It went up in smoke when the Bounty was put to the torch.’
      • ‘The walls of Carthage were torn down, the city put to the torch.’
      • ‘Your ancestors were put to the torch and burnt in the name of the Lord.’
      • ‘Their dwellings, all their possessions, their families, their gods, everything was put to the torch.’
      • ‘All of Kirribilli might, in passing, be put to the torch as enraged tree-worshippers marched on the council chambers.’
      • ‘A few villagers attempted to battle the invaders with old swords or axes that had hung upon the walls of their homes, homes that were even now being put to the torch.’
      • ‘Some believe that a new ship will spontaneously spring to life when the old one is put to the torch.’
      • ‘Churches and mosques have been put to the torch.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French torche, from Latin torqua, variant of torques ‘necklace, wreath’, from torquere ‘to twist’. The current verb sense was originally US slang and dates from the 1930s.

Pronunciation

torch

/tɔːtʃ/