From Middle English burnysshen, burnischen, a borrowing from Old French burnir, from its stem burniss-, variant of brunir (“to polish, make brown”), from Old French brun (“brown”). More at English brown.
- (transitive) To make smooth or shiny by rubbing; to polish; to shine.
In pottery, a stone is sometimes used to burnish a pot before firing, giving it a smooth, shiny look.
- The frame of burnished steel, that cast a glare / From far, and seemed to thaw the freezing air.
- Now the village windows blaze, / Burnished by the setting sun.
- (intransitive) To shine forth; to brighten; to become smooth and glossy, as from swelling or filling out; hence, to grow large.
- A slender poet must have time to grow, / And spread and burnish as his brothers do.
- My thoughts began to burnish, sprout, and swell.