Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


And suppose I set fire to this pyramid with a candle—will she burn up?

It must not be cooked too quickly, or the fat will burn up and be wasted.

But do you really think, Jim, that he would get his gang to burn up the place for that?

Let him try to burn up New Ireland—and then go back to where he came from.

Mimas had no atmosphere—how could the meteor sound off or burn up?

They could burn up all the cook-books that ever were printed and still cook.

The paper will light itself, will burn up for joy, I think; but I will try.

"I think he was a fool to burn up," said Frank, bound not to give in.

I can't leave it in the house or the office: they might burn up.

Yet to wait for the cotton to burn up might cause a serious delay.


12c., combination of Old Norse brenna "to burn, light," and two originally distinct Old English verbs: bærnan "to kindle" (transitive) and beornan "to be on fire" (intransitive), all from Proto-Germanic *brennan/*branajan (cf. Middle Dutch bernen, Dutch branden, Old High German brinnan, German brennen, Gothic -brannjan "to set on fire"). This perhaps is from PIE *gwher- "to heat, warm" (see warm (adj.)), or from PIE *bhre-n-u, from root *bhreue- "to boil forth, well up" (see brew (v.)). Related: Burned/burnt (see -ed); burning.

Figuratively (of passions, battle, etc.) in Old English. Meaning "cheat, swindle, victimize" is first attested 1650s. In late 18c, slang, burned meant "infected with venereal disease." To burn one's bridges (behind one) "behave so as to destroy any chance of returning to a status quo" (attested by 1892 in Mark Twain), perhaps ultimately is from reckless cavalry raids in the American Civil War. Slavic languages have historically used different and unrelated words for the transitive and intransitive senses of "set fire to"/"be on fire:" cf. Polish palić/gorzeć, Russian žeč'/gorel.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.