American English

Definition of burn verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they burn
    he / she / it burns
    past simple burnt
    past simple burned
    -ing form burning
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  1. 1[intransitive] to produce flames and heat A welcoming fire was burning in the fireplace. Fires were burning all over the city.
  2. 2[intransitive] (used especially in the progressive tenses) to be on fire By nightfall the whole city was burning. Two children were rescued from the burning car. The smell of burning rubber filled the air.
  3. 3[transitive, intransitive] to destroy, damage, injure, or kill someone or something by fire; to be destroyed, etc. by fire burn (somebody/something) to burn trash/dead leaves All his belongings were burned in the fire. The cigarette burned a hole in the carpet. The house was burned to the ground (= completely destroyed). The house burned to the ground. Ten people burned to death in the hotel fire. burn somebody/something + adj. His greatest fear is of being burned alive.
  4. fuel
  5. 4[transitive, intransitive] burn (something) if you burn a fuel, or a fuel burns, it produces heat, light, or energy a furnace that burns gas/oil (figurative) Some people burn calories (= use food to produce energy) faster than others. Which fuel burns most efficiently?
  6. food
  7. 5[intransitive, transitive] if food burns, or if you burn it, it is spoiled because it gets too hot I can smell something burning in the kitchen. burn something Sorry—I burned the toast.
  8. sun/heat/acid
  9. 6[intransitive, transitive] to be damaged or injured by the sun, heat, acid, etc.; to damage or injure someone or something in this way My skin burns easily (= in the sun). burn somebody I got badly burned by the sun yesterday. burn something The soup is hot. Don't burn your mouth. burn yourself I burned myself on the stove.
  10. of part of body
  11. 7[intransitive] if part of your body burns or is burning, it feels very hot and painful Your forehead is burning. Do you have a fever? Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. Thesaurushurtache burn sting tingle itch throbThese are all words that can be used when part of your body feels painful.hurt (of part of your body) to feel painful; (of an action) to cause pain:My feet hurt. Stop it! That hurts!ache to feel a continuous dull pain:I'm aching all over.burn (of part of your body) to feel very hot and painful:Our eyes were burning from the chemicals in the air.sting to make someone feel a sharp burning pain or an uncomfortable feeling in part of their body; (of part of your body) to feel this pain:My eyes were stinging from the smoke.tingle (of part of your body) to feel as if a lot of small sharp points are pushing into the skin there:The cold air made her face tingle.itch to have an uncomfortable feeling on your skin that makes you want to scratch; to make your skin feel like this:I itch all over. Does the rash itch?throb (of part of your body) to feel pain as a series of regular beats:His head throbbed with pain.Patterns your eyes hurt/ache/burn/sting/itch your skin hurts/burns/stings/tingles/itches your flesh hurts/burns/stings/tingles your head hurts/aches/throbs your stomach hurts/aches to really hurt/ache/burn/sting/tingle/itch/throb to hurt/ache/sting/itch badly/a lot It hurts/stings/tingles/itches.
  12. of a light
  13. 8[intransitive] to produce light Lights were burning upstairs, but no one answered the door.
  14. feel emotion/desire
  15. 9[intransitive, transitive] (literary) to feel a very strong emotion or desire burn with something to be burning with rage/ambition/love burn to do something He was burning to go climbing again.
  16. go fast
  17. 10[intransitive] + adv./prep. (informal) to move very fast in a particular direction His car burned past us on the highway.
  18. make angry
  19. 11[transitive] burn somebody (informal) to make someone very angry So you did it just to burn me?
  20. cheat
  21. 12[transitive, usually passive] (informal) to cheat or take advantage of someone be/get burned A lot of investors were burned by his scams. She’s been jilted before and is afraid of getting burned again.
  22. CD, etc.
  23. 13[transitive, intransitive] burn (something) (to something) to put information onto a CD, etc.
  24. Thesaurusburnchar scald scorch singeThese words all mean to damage, injure, destroy, or kill something or someone with heat or fire.burn to damage, injure, destroy, or kill something or someone with fire, heat, or acid; to be damaged, etc. by fire, heat, or acid:She burned all his letters. The house burned down in 1995.char [usually passive] to make something black by burning it; to become black by burning:The pasta was topped with charred peppers.scald to burn part of your body with very hot liquid or steamscorch to burn and slightly damage a surface by making it too hot:I scorched my dress when I was ironing it.singe to burn the surface or edges of something slightly, usually by mistake; to be burned in this way:He singed his hair as he tried to light his cigarette.scorch or singe?Things are scorched by either heat or fire. Things can be singed only by fire or a flame.Patterns to burn/scald yourself/your hand to burn/scorch/singe your hair/clothes burned out/charred/scorched remains/ruins/buildingsIdioms
    burn your bridges
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    to do something that makes it impossible to return to the previous situation later Think carefully before you resign—you don't want to burn your bridges.
    burn the candle at both ends
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    to become very tired by trying to do too many things and going to bed late, and getting up early
    burn your fingers, get your fingers burned
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    to suffer as a result of doing something without realizing the possible bad results, especially in business He really got his fingers burned dabbling in the stock market.
    burn a hole in your pocket
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    if money burns a hole in your pocket, you want to spend it as soon as you have it
    burn the midnight oil
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    to study or work until late at night
    burn rubber (informal)
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    to drive very fast
    burn something to a crisp
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    to cook something for too long or with too much heat, so that it becomes badly burned
    crash and burn (informal)
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    to fail suddenly and completely His grand plan to make a million dollars crashed and burned, leaving him not only broke but deeply in debt.
    somebody's ears are burning
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    a person thinks that other people are talking about them, especially in an unkind way “I bumped into your ex-wife last night.” “I thought I could feel my ears burning!”
    have money to burn
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    to have so much money that you do not have to be careful with it
    Phrasal Verbsburn awayburn downburn downburn somethingoffburn outburn outburn outburn something outburn upburn somebody upburn somethingup
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: burn