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See also: Burke, bürke, and burkę



  • enPR: bûrk, IPA(key): /bɜː(ɹ)k/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)k

Etymology 1[edit]

Eponymous, from William Burke.


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

  1. (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, slang) To murder 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. (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, slang, historical) To murder for the same purpose as Burke, to kill in order to have a body to sell to anatomists, surgeons, etc.
    • 1832, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, The Keepsake 1833, One Peep was Enough, pages 303–304:
      "I don’t know that," interrupted the landlady; "Williams is a good hanging name: there was Williams who murdered the Marr's family, and Williams who burked all those poor dear children; I dare say he is some relation of theirs; but to think of his coming to the White Hart—it's no place for his doings, I can tell him: he sha'n't poison his wife in my house; out he goes this very night—I'll take the letter to him myself."
    • 1833, T. Hook, Parson's Daughter, II. i. 26:
      Perhaps he is Burked, and his body sold for nine pounds.
    • 1836 March – 1837 October, Charles Dickens, “Chapter 31”, in The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1837, →OCLC:
      ‘You don’t mean to say he was burked, Sam?’ said Mr. Pickwick, looking hastily round.
  3. (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, 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,”, in Plain Tales from the Hills, Folio, published 2005, page 128:
      He put away—burked—the Directors' letter, and went in to talk to Riley
    • 1953, Robert Graves, Poems, section 4:
      Socrates and Plato burked the issue.
Derived terms[edit]
See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]


burke (plural burkes)

  1. (British, slang) Alternative form of berk


Northern Sami[edit]


(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


  • (Kautokeino) IPA(key): /ˈpurːke/



  1. can, tin


Even e-stem, rk-rkk gradation
Nominative burke
Genitive burkke
Singular Plural
Nominative burke burkket
Accusative burkke burkkiid
Genitive burkke burkkiid
Illative burkii burkkiide
Locative burkkes burkkiin
Comitative burkkiin burkkiiguin
Essive burken
Possessive forms
Singular Dual Plural
1st person burken burkeme burkemet
2nd person burket burkede burkedet
3rd person burkes burkeska burkeset

Further reading[edit]

  • Koponen, Eino, Ruppel, Klaas, Aapala, Kirsti, editors (2002–2008), Álgu database: Etymological database of the Saami languages[1], Helsinki: Research Institute for the Languages of Finland