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burn1 verb (burned or burnt, burning) 1 tr & intr to be on fire or set something on fire. 2 tr & intr to damage or injure, or be damaged or injured, by fire or heat. 3 to use something as fuel. 4 tr & intr to char or scorch, or become charred or scorched. 5 to make (a hole, etc) by or as if by fire or heat, etc Acid can burn holes in material. 6 intrans to be or feel hot. 7 tr & intr to feel or make something feel a hot or stinging pain Vodka burns my throat. 8 (usually be burning to do something) intrans, colloq to want to do it very much is burning to get his revenge. 9 (especially be burning with something) intrans to feel strong emotion was burning with shame. 10 to use (coal, oil, etc) as fuel. 11 tr & intr (now usually burn to death or burn alive) to kill or die by fire. noun 1 an injury or mark caused by fire, heat, acid, friction, etc. 2 pain felt in a muscle, experienced as a result of the build-up of lactic acid during demanding exercise. 3 an act of firing the engines of a space rocket so as to produce thrust. 4 (also burn-up) a very fast ride eg on a motorcycle or speedboat went for a burn on the bike. burn one's boats or bridges colloq to do something which makes it impossible for one to return to one's former situation or way of life, etc; to destroy all chance of escape or retreat. burn the candle at both ends to exhaust oneself by trying to do too much, usually by starting work very early in the morning and staying up late at night. burn one's fingers or get one's fingers burnt colloq to suffer, often financially, as a result of getting involved in or interfering with something foolish, dangerous, risky, etc. burn a hole in one's pocket said of money that one is very eager to spend: to be extremely difficult or tempting not to spend. See also money to burn under money. burn the midnight oil to work late into the night.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon biernan to be on fire, and bærnan to cause to burn.
burn down said of a large structure such as a building: to be destroyed by fire or burnt to the ground.
burn something down to destroy (a building, etc) by fire.
burn out 1 to burn up completely and be reduced to nothing. 2 said of a rocket engine: to stop working when the fuel is used up.
burn someone or oneself out to exhaust them or oneself by too much work or exercise.
burn something out to make it stop working from overuse or overheating.
burn up 1 to be destroyed by fire, heat or acid, etc. 2 N Amer slang to become very angry. 3 said of a fire, etc: to increase in activity; to blaze or flare up. See also burn-up.
burn someone up N Amer slang to make them very angry Her letter really burned me up.
burn something up 1 to destroy it by fire, heat or acid, etc. 2 said of an engine: to use up fuel in large quantities.
burn2 noun, chiefly Scottish a small stream.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon burna brook.
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