Definition of burn verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//bɜːn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɜːrn//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they burn
    BrE BrE//bɜːn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɜːrn//
    he / she / it burns
    BrE BrE//bɜːnz//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɜːrnz//
    past simple burnt
    BrE BrE//bɜːnt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɜːrnt//
    past participle burnt
    BrE BrE//bɜːnt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɜːrnt//
    past simple burned
    BrE BrE//bɜːnd//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɜːrnd//
    past participle burned
    BrE BrE//bɜːnd//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɜːrnd//
    -ing form burning
    BrE BrE//ˈbɜːnɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈbɜːrnɪŋ//
    The sun and the moon
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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 somebody/something by fire; to be destroyed, etc. by fire burn (somebody/something) to burn waste paper/dead leaves All his belongings were burnt in the fire. The cigarette burned a hole in the carpet. The house was burnt 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 burnt 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/coke (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 burnt 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 somebody/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's hot. Don't burn your mouth. burn yourself I burned myself on the stove. Synonymsburnchar scald scorch singeThese words all mean to damage, injure, destroy or kill somebody/​something with heat or fire.burn to damage, injure, destroy or kill somebody/​something 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 bodies had been charred beyond recognition.scald to burn part of your body with very hot liquid or steam.scorch 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 of something slightly, usually by mistake; to be burnt in this way:He singed his hair as he tried to light his cigarette.scorch or singe? Things are scorched by heat or fire. Things can only be singed by fire or a flame.Patterns to burn/​scald yourself/​your hand to burn/​scorch/​singe your hair/​clothes burnt out/​charred/​scorched remains/​ruins/​buildings See related entries: The sun and the moon
  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's burning. Have you got a fever? Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. Synonymshurtache 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. Ouch! That hurt!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 somebody feel a sharp burning pain or 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 painfully.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 The car was burning down the road.
  18. make angry
  19. 11[transitive] burn somebody (North American English, informal) to make somebody very angry So you did it just to burn me?
  20. CD, DVD
  21. 12[transitive, intransitive] burn (something) (to something) to put information onto a CD or DVD
  22. spend money
  23. 13(business, informal) to spend money The project burns £2 million a year in contractor costs. see also burn rate
  24. Word Originverb Old English birnan ‘be on fire’ and bærnan ‘consume by fire’, both from the same Germanic base; related to German brennen.Extra examples Bishop Tunstall preached a sermon against the book, after which copies were ceremonially burnt. Fresh leaves will burn slowly with billows of smoke. He was burning with indignation. Her eyes burned fiercely. Her skin seemed to burn at his touch. His cheeks burned with embarrassment. I like my steak burnt to a cinder on the outside and blood red and juicy inside. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Several people were burned to death. She could sense the anger burning slowly inside him. The building was burned to the ground. The car was found abandoned in a wood, completely burnt out. The factory burned down last year. The fire was still burning fiercely. The tower was struck by lightning and was burned to a cinder. Their torches burned brightly in the dark. fair skin that burns easily hot sunshine burning through the windows By night the whole city was burning. His greatest fear is of being burnt alive. Our eyes were burning from the chemicals in the air. Protesters threatened to burn down the house. She burned all his letters. Sorry—I burned the toast. The flame in the oil lamp burned steadily. The house burned down in 1995. The house was burnt to the ground by protesters. The soup’s hot. Don’t burn your mouth. The spacecraft burned up as it entered the earth’s atmosphere. Your forehead’s burning. Have you got a fever?Idioms
    burn your bridges (British English also burn your boats)
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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 burnt
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    to suffer as a result of doing something without realizing the possible bad results, especially in business He got his fingers badly burnt 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
    to study or work until late at night (informal) to drive very fast See related entries: Driving
    burn something to a cinder/crisp
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    to cook something for too long or with too much heat, so that it becomes badly burnt By the time I got home, the cake was burnt to a cinder.
    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!’
    to think or imagine that other people are talking about you 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 American Dictionary entry: burn