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See also: Burke and burkę



Eponymous, from William Burke.



burke (third-person singular simple present burkes, present participle burking, simple past and past participle burked)

  1. (Britain, slang) To murder in the same manner as Burke, to kill by suffocation
    • 1829 February 2, Times (London), 3/5
      As soon as the executioner proceeded to his duty, the cries of ‘Burke him, Burke him—give him no rope’... were vociferated... ‘Burke Hare too!’
  2. (Britain, slang, historical) To murder for the same purpose as Burke, to kill in order to have a body to sell to anatomists, surgeons, etc.
    • 1833, T. Hook, Parson's Daughter, II. i. 26
      Perhaps he is Burked, and his body sold for nine pounds.
    • 1836, Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, Chapter 31:
      ‘You don’t mean to say he was burked, Sam?’ said Mr. Pickwick, looking hastily round.
  3. (Britain, slang) To smother; to conceal, hush up, suppress.
    • 1835, J. A. Roebuck. Dorchester Labourers, 6/1 (note)
      The reporters left it out... Those who spoke in favour of the poor men, were what the reporters call burked.
    • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, "A Bank Fraud," Plain Tales from the Hills, Folio 2005, page 128:
      He put away—burked—the Directors' letter, and went in to talk to Riley
    • 1953, Robert Graves, Poems, 4
      Socrates and Plato burked the issue.

See also[edit]


burke (plural burkes)

  1. (Britain, slang) Alternative form of berk