burn - definition and synonyms


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present tense
present participleburning
past tenseburned or burnt
past participleburned or burnt
  1. 1
    [intransitive] if a fire or flame burns, it produces light and heat

    A fire was burning in the hearth.

    The flames seemed to burn even brighter.

    1. a.
      [intransitive] [usually progressive] if something is burning, it is being destroyed or damaged by fire. You can also say that it is on fire

      Homes were burning all over the village.

      The truck had been burning for some time.

       Synonyms and related words
    2. b.
      [transitive] to damage or destroy something with fire
      burn a hole in something:

      The cigarette burnt a hole in her blouse.

      burn something to the ground (=completely destroy it by fire):

      The city of Tortona was burnt to the ground.

    3. c.
      [transitive] [usually passive] to injure or kill someone by setting fire to them

      According to early reports, many people were burnt to death in their beds.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] if food burns, or if you burn it, it gets spoiled by being cooked for too long or at too high a temperature

    Have you burnt the toast again?

  3. 3
    [transitive] to injure someone or a part of your body with something hot

    The sand was so hot it burnt my feet.

    1. a.
      [intransitive/transitive] if your skin burns, or if the sun burns it, it becomes red and painful because of the heat from the sun

      Wear a hat so you don’t burn your neck.

       Synonyms and related words
  4. 4
    [transitive] to use something such as petrol or coal to produce heat or energy

    Jets burn less fuel the higher they go.

    You’re not allowed to burn coal in this area.

  5. 5
    [transitive] to use fat or energy in your body

    To change your body shape you need to burn calories.

    fat-burning exercises

  6. 6
    [intransitive/transitive] if a chemical burns something, it damages it by destroying the places it touches

    The acid had burnt a hole in my sweater.

  7. 7
    [intransitive/transitive] to produce an unpleasant stinging feeling on your skin

    The antiseptic really burned when I rubbed it on.

    1. a.
      [intransitive/transitive] if alcohol or spicy food burns, it produces an unpleasant stinging feeling in your mouth and throat

      The whisky burned his throat as it went down.

  8. 8
    [intransitive] to feel a very strong emotion or a great need for someone or something
    burn with:

    I was burning with curiosity, but didn’t dare ask what happened.

    burn to do something:

    I was burning to know how he had got on in New York.

  9. 9
    [intransitive] if your cheeks are burning, they are red, especially because you are embarrassed
  10. 10
    [intransitive] if a light is burning, it is switched on

    Sara left all the lights burning.

  11. 11
    [intransitive] informal if a vehicle burns somewhere, it goes there very fast
  12. 12
    [transitive] computing if you burn a CD-ROM, you put information onto it
See also