Language: Old English
Origin: byrnan 'to burn' and bærnan 'to cause to burn'


1 verb
burn1 S2 W3 past tense and past participle burnt or burned

produce flames and heat

a) if a fire burns, it produces heat and flames:
There was a fire burning in the fireplace.
An average household candle will burn for about six hours.
b) if something is burning, it is producing flames and being damaged or destroyed by fire:
Parts of the building are still burning.

destroy something with fire

[transitive] to destroy or damage something with fire :
I burnt all his old letters.
Cars were burned and shops were looted during the rioting.
The Grand Hotel had burnt to the ground.
Make sure the iron isn't too hot or you'll burn the cloth.
He dropped his cigarette and burnt a hole in the carpet.

injure/kill somebody with fire

[transitive] to hurt yourself or someone else with fire or something hot:
I burned my hand on the oven door.
She was badly burned in a road accident.
16 passengers were burned to death (=died in a fire).
A family of five were burned alive in their home last night (=died in a fire).
Heretics were burnt at the stake (=burnt in a fire as a punishment).


[intransitive and transitive] if the sun burns your skin, or if your skin burns, it becomes red and painful from the heat of the sun [↪ sunburn]:
I burn quite easily.
Don't forget you can still get burnt when you're swimming or when it's cloudy.
Her face and neck were quite badly burned.


[intransitive and transitive] to spoil food by cooking it for too long, or to become spoiled in this way:
I'm afraid I've burnt the pizza.
burn something to a crisp/cinder
The meat was burned to a crisp.


[transitive] to damage or destroy something by a chemical action:
Quite a lot of household chemicals can burn your skin.


[intransitive and transitive]TP if you burn a fuel, or if it burns, it is used to produce power, heat, light etc:
The boiler burns oil to produce heat.
greenhouse gases caused by the burning of fossil fuels


[transitive] if you burn fat or calories, you use up energy stored in your body by being physically active:
Taking a brisk walk every morning is a great way to burn calories.
a fat-burning exercise


[intransitive] if a light or lamp burns, it shines or produces light:
A lamp was burning in the kitchen window.
The hall light was still burning.

feel hot and painful

[intransitive and transitive] if a part of your body burns, or if something burns it, it feels unpleasantly hot:
The whisky burned my throat as it went down.
My eyes were burning from the smoke.


[intransitive] if your face or cheeks are burning, they feel hot because you are embarrassed or upset:
I could feel my cheeks burning as I spoke.


[transitive] if you burn a CD or DVD, you record music, images, or other information onto it using special computer equipment

be burning with rage/desire etc

to feel a particular emotion very strongly:
She was burning with curiosity.

be burning to do something

to want to do or find out something very much:
I was burning to know how he had got on in New York.

be/get burned

a) to be emotionally hurt by someone or something:
Take things slowly - don't get burned again.
b) to lose a lot of money:
The company got badly burned in the collapse.

burn your fingers/get your fingers burned

informal to suffer the unpleasant results of something that you have done:
I tried a dating agency once, but got my fingers badly burnt - I'll never do it again.

burn a hole in your pocket

if money burns a hole in your pocket, you want to spend it as soon as you can

burn your bridges/boats

informal to do something with the result that you will not be able to return to a previous situation again, even if you want to:
I'm really tempted to take up that job offer in Washington, but I don't want to burn my boats with this company.

burn the candle at both ends

informal to get very tired by doing things until very late at night and getting up early in the mornings

burn the midnight oil

informal to work or study until late at night

it burns somebody that/how etc

American English used to say that something makes someone feel angry or jealous:
It really burns me the way they treat us.

go fast

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] informal to travel very fast
burn along/up etc
a sports car burning up the motorway
to be burning: be on fire, be ablaze, be alight

to start burning: catch fire, burst into flames, ignite

to make something start burning: light, set fire to something

to make something stop burning: put out, extinguish

to hurt or damage your skin with hot liquid or steam: scald

the crime of deliberately setting fire to buildings: arson

burn away

phrasal verb
if something burns away or is burned away, it is destroyed by fire
burn something ↔ away
All her hair had been burnt away.

burn down

phrasal verb
1 if a building burns down or is burned down, it is destroyed by fire:
She was worried that the house might burn down while they were away.
burn something ↔ down
The old town hall was burnt down in the 1970s.
2 if a fire burns down, the flames become weaker and it produces less heat

burn something ↔ off

phrasal verb
1 to remove something by burning it:
You can use a blowlamp to burn off the old paint.
2 to use energy that is stored in your body by doing physical exercise:
I decided to go for a run to try and burn off a few calories.

burn out

phrasal verb
1 if a fire burns out or burns itself out, it stops burning because there is no coal, wood etc left:
He left the fire to burn itself out.

be burnt out

if a building or vehicle is burnt out, the inside of it is destroyed by fire:
The hotel was completely burnt out. Only the walls remained.
We passed several burnt out cars.

burn something ↔ out

to remove something by burning it:
The cancer cells are burnt out using a laser beam.
4 to work so hard over a period of time that you become unable to continue working because you are tired, ill, or unable to think of any new ideas:
It's a high-pressure job and you could burn out young.
be/get burnt out
He was almost burnt out by the time he was 21.
burn yourself out
She's in danger of burning herself out.
burnout (1)
5 if an engine or electric wire burns out or is burnt out, it stops working because it has been damaged by getting too hot:
The plugs are wired so that if one burns out, the others will still start the engine.
burn something ↔ out
I think you've burnt out one of the gaskets.
6TTW if a rocket or jet burns out, it stops working because all its fuel has been used burnout (2)

burn up

phrasal verb
1 if something burns up or is burnt up, it is completely destroyed by fire or heat:
The satellite will burn up as it re-enters the earth's atmosphere.
burn something ↔ up
Most of the woodland has now been burnt up.

burn something ↔ up

informal to use a lot of something in a careless way:
Most household appliances burn up loads of electricity.
He just burns up money!

be burning up

spoken if someone is burning up, they are very hot, usually because they are ill:
Feel his forehead - he's burning up.

burn somebody up

American English informal to make someone very angry:
The way he treats her really burns me up.

burn something ↔ up

to use energy that is stored in your body, by being physically active:
As we get older, our body becomes less efficient at burning up calories.
WORD FOCUS: computer WORD FOCUS: computer
people who work with computers: user, programmer, web designer, IT person, software engineer, (systems) analyst, administrator, webmaster, helpdesk, techie informal, geek disapproving informal

someone who tries to break into a computer system: hacker, cracker

things you do with your computer: start up/power up your computer
a file or document
click on
an icon
cut and paste
pieces of text
files or programs
scroll up and down
the page
things you do not want
files or pictures from the Internet
CDs or DVDs
a file or document
your work
shut down
your computer

computer problems: bug, virus, error, corrupted file/data, crash, worm

See also

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