Definition of scorch in US English:



  • 1with object Burn the surface of (something) with flame or heat.

    ‘surrounding houses were scorched by heat from the blast’
    • ‘Shrubbery around the find was badly scorched from the attempt to set the bodies on fire.’
    • ‘The bright suns rays touched her sneakers, scorching them with fiery heat.’
    • ‘The edged complex fire has scorched 38,000 acres so far and continues to grow.’
    • ‘In addition, parching scorches off the long barbed ends of the chaff and destroys any detritus left after cleaning.’
    • ‘The heat scorched at her hair and the smoke burned her lungs after every breath.’
    • ‘I could feel the heat surrounding me, burning me, scorching my skin, causing me to cry out wordlessly in pain.’
    • ‘The bombs blew up, burning the air and scorching my wings!’
    • ‘The water burnt him, he hoped it would be hot enough to scorch away his wickedness.’
    • ‘I felt like I was walking in an endless desert, with the afternoon sun scorching my skin.’
    • ‘His fighting gear was singed and tattered, and his face and exposed flesh was scorched.’
    • ‘She felt the hot rays of heat scorching her skin, yet she loved the sensation they gave her.’
    • ‘The sides of the spear-shaped entity were scorched by liquefying flames produced within the inner stomach of the wormhole.’
    • ‘Nationwide, fires scorched 7.4 million acres, almost twice the 10-year average.’
    • ‘Closely following it was a blast of heat which scorched clothes, ignited buildings and set even the individual blades of grass on fire.’
    • ‘A roar of laughter shot through the room and several flames scorched the ceiling.’
    • ‘They burned like acid, scorching a path wherever they brushed her pale skin.’
    • ‘Her armour was scorched and burnt away in places, revealing blistered skin and burn wounds severe enough to make an experienced doctor wince.’
    • ‘Like a moth to flame, heat scorched her flesh in his presence.’
    • ‘They're making the most of the cooler weather in Southern California where a wildfire scorched more than 24,000 acres.’
    • ‘The Sun will become a red giant, still hot enough to burn planets to cinders as it engulfs Mercury and Venus and scorches Earth.’
    burn, sear, singe, char, blacken, discolour
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    1. 1.1no object Become burned when exposed to heat or a flame.
      ‘the meat had scorched’
      • ‘But you have to be careful, since they can scorch in sun or hot winds and turn all green if you give them too much shade or fertilizer.’
      • ‘Some of the newer carpets are quite sensitive to heat and scorch easily.’
      • ‘Some ovens run hotter than others, so check the meat fairly often to prevent scorching.’
      • ‘The hopeful buds of roses scorch before their time is come while disconsolate hens settle for a dry dust bath.’
      • ‘And then my lips, my tongue, were burning, scorching, stinging from the heat.’
      • ‘But all too often, rice on the stovetop boils over, scorches, or turns to mush, especially on slow-to-adjust electric stoves.’
      • ‘A press cloth over the fabric protects the fabric from melting or scorching and prevents the laminate from damaging the iron.’
      • ‘Stir occasionally for even heating and to prevent scorching.’
      • ‘Check it every fifteen to twenty minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the meat is not sticking or, God forbid, scorching.’
      • ‘When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.’
      • ‘I dropped my sword in panic because I thought that my hands would scorch in the flames.’
      dry up, desiccate, parch, wither, shrivel
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    2. 1.2often as adjective scorched (of the heat of the sun) cause (vegetation or a place) to become dried out and lifeless.
      ‘a desolate, scorched landscape’
      • ‘The landscape of Western Australia is wild, scorched and beautiful, and the language of his latest book is seductive, distinctive, also beautiful.’
      • ‘Somewhere there is a desert ruled by a sun that knows no malice, a sun that never scorches; warm, healing, nurturing, smiling softly down with love for all that is beneath it and all who pass through it.’
      • ‘The summer heat proved particularly brutal to men marching in hot wool uniforms, and the landscape stretched before them, an unending plain of scorched grassland.’
      • ‘In winter much of it is under snow; in spring grass appears, which is scorched dry and swept by the dust storms of summer.’
      • ‘The countryside had been scorched; the acacia hedges were tipped with orange.’
      • ‘Away from the package holidaymakers, she is free to explore the scorched Mediterranean landscape and investigate what it is that seems to be wrong with her.’
      • ‘A disheartening scene flashed into view: a barren landscape, fruitless, scorched by a blazing, merciless sun.’
      • ‘I live in an area that was scorched by drought for several years.’
      • ‘The sun was high in the sky, its rays reaching down and scorching the Earth.’
      • ‘Vegas scorches in the summer; average July temperatures hover near 100 degrees.’
      • ‘Later, we hike into Limestone Gorge, through a corroded landscape of dolomite blocks, bizarre limestone tower karsts, twisted Screw Palms and scorched yellow grasses.’
      make dry, dry out, dry up, parch, sear, bake
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  • 2informal no object, with adverbial of direction (of a person or vehicle) move very fast.

    ‘a sports car scorching along the expressway’
    • ‘Trapping in front she went on to make every post a winning one when scorching around the circuit in 29.19.’
    • ‘This inoffensive-looking car can scorch along at impressive figures, and, as it is based on a chassis with a decent set of dimensions, it has real space for adults in the back.’
    • ‘The Glasgow speedster has fallen from grace almost as fast as the winger scorches down the sidelines.’
    • ‘The debutant scorched away from the Bedford defence to put the Bees into a 25-3 lead.’
    • ‘It scorches between corners with lightning force and brakes solidly so that the next corner can be lined up smoothly and efficiently.’
    • ‘Having taken pole position, he scorched away and for 30 laps looked a clear winner.’
    • ‘He scorched out of traps to set a blistering pace.’
    • ‘Thereafter it was plain sailing for Nitro Smart who scorched around the circuit in the excellent time of 29.’
    • ‘You scorched around the block in less than two minutes and didn't even need training wheels, except once.’
    speed, zoom, whizz, blast
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  • 1The burning or charring of the surface of something.

    as modifier ‘a scorch mark’
    • ‘His back gate was burnt, tiles on his roof were damaged and there's scorch damage to the walls of his back yard.’
    • ‘There were no scorch marks, no soiling of any sort.’
    • ‘Is that what this scorch mark is all about then?’
    • ‘The hills are jagged and dimpled with craters, some outlined in scorch marks.’
    • ‘When he got to the one particular part of the living room that was embellished in scorches, he stopped.’
    • ‘Alternatively, you can create a similar effect by grilling the aubergine slices dry, then using a red-hot skewer to mark scorch lines before drizzling with oil.’
    • ‘However the lasers only left scorch marks in the metal.’
    • ‘The lawn was covered with scorch marks, and the main lab building was missing large chunks of the wall.’
    • ‘His childhood scorches were reddening quickly.’
    • ‘His sword was at his side and had scorch marks on it.’
    • ‘There were multiple scorches on the hull and smoke and sparks continued to emanate from various sections of it.’
    • ‘The whole thing was a dull silver colour, spotted with dark scorch marks as if the ship had been shot in a fight.’
    • ‘Farther along, we could see scorch marks rising up the trunks of trees.’
    • ‘In an equally astounding fashion, the Medium's violent pillar of fire engulfed the Dark Master's whole body from head to foot, swallowing Henry in a raging inferno hotter than the scorches of Hell.’
    • ‘I starred at him for so long I had to have left scorch marks.’
    • ‘Patrick could see the scorch marks on Damon's armor from their first meeting.’
    • ‘He couldn't block fast enough and got a nice scorch across his chest.’
    • ‘He floated inside the cold titanium surroundings, making notice of the large scorch marks on the walls.’
    • ‘Huge black scorch marks marred the surface that would have normally been a shiny metal.’
    • ‘I felt scorches on my arms, and I saw shadowy fingers enclosed around my forearms.’
    1. 1.1Botany A form of plant necrosis, typically of fungal origin, marked by browning of leaf margins.
      • ‘Plants not given protection from the wind often develop leaf scorch or splitting of the bark on the stems.’
      • ‘There is now a noticeable yellow patch developing and the bushes show signs of leaf scorch.’
      • ‘Severe scorch can result in premature leaf or needle loss.’
      • ‘In winter pile it higher to help prevent winter leaf scorch or bark splitting on the stems.’
      • ‘And here's another tip: Cover the lower trunk sections in tree-wrap paper or burlap strips to ward off animals, sun scorch and errant weedwacker wires.’


Middle English (as a verb): perhaps related to Old Norse skorpna ‘be shriveled’.