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From Middle English quenchen, from Old English cwenċan, from Proto-Germanic *kwankijaną.


  • IPA(key): /kwɛnt͡ʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛntʃ


quench (third-person singular simple present quenches, present participle quenching, simple past and past participle quenched)

  1. (transitive) To satisfy, especially a literal or figurative thirst.
    The library quenched her thirst for knowledge.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book II, Canto V”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC, page 254:
      The wearie Traueiler, wandring that way, / Therein did often quench his thriſty heat, / And then by it his wearie limbes diſplay, / Whiles creeping ſlomber made him to forget []
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, chapter 4, in Moonfleet, London; Toronto, Ont.: Jonathan Cape, published 1934:
      I began also to feel very hungry, as not having eaten for twenty-four hours; and worse than that, there was a parching thirst and dryness in my throat, and nothing with which to quench it.
    Synonyms: appease, slake
  2. (transitive) To extinguish or put out (as a fire or light).
    • 1798, Francisco de Quevedo, Fortune in Her Wits, and the Hour of All Men[1], volume 3, Edinburgh, translation of La fortuna con seso, y La hora de todos, pages 130–131:
      [] others ſaying, the fire would ceaſe as ſoon as it had vent, uncovered a great part of the houſe, breaking down the roofs, and destroying all that ſtood in their way. None of them went about to quench the fire, but all were employed in pulling down the houſe,  []
  3. (transitive, metallurgy) To cool rapidly by direct contact with liquid coolant, as a blacksmith quenching hot iron.
    The swordsmith quenched the sword in an oil bath so that it wouldn't shatter.
  4. (transitive, chemistry) To terminate or greatly diminish (a chemical reaction) by destroying or deforming the remaining reagents.
  5. (transitive, physics) To rapidly change the parameters of a physical system.
    • 2018, “Strong quenches in the one-dimensional Fermi-Hubbard model”, in Physical Review A[2], volume 98, →DOI, page 1:
      A suitable method to prepare a system out of equilibrium in order to study the ensuing dynamics is to quench the system, i.e., to change its parameters abruptly.
  6. (transitive, physics) To rapidly terminate the operation of a superconducting electromagnet by causing part or all of the magnet's windings to enter the normal, resistive state.
    If someone is pinned against the MRI magnet by a ferromagnetic object, you may need to quench the magnet in order to free them.
    • 2015 May 15, Derek Lowe, “Quenching NMRs, Accidentally and On Purpose”, in In the Pipeline[3], archived from the original on 20 November 2022:
      These knobs are generally mounted behind a cover of some sort, to prevent someone from leaning up against them or putting a philodendron on top of them, because (1) that aforementioned geyser can represent thousands to tens of thousands of dollars of helium these days, and (2) quenching is Not Good for the integrity of the magnet, and in the worse[sic] case you might find yourself with a lot of high-quality scrap metal.



quench (plural quenches)

  1. The act of quenching something; the fact of being quenched.
    • 1965 [1949], Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March[4], New York: Random House, Inc., page 495:
      Then the MacManus [i.e. a ship] went down. The sudden quench of the white light was how I knew it.
  2. (physics) The abnormal termination of operation of a superconducting magnet, occurring when part of the superconducting coil enters the normal (resistive) state.
    • 2019 June 13, Steve Rentz, “What Is an MRI Quench?”, in Block Imaging[5], archived from the original on 20 November 2022:
      There are two main types of quenches, and both are triggered by the red button. A customer of ours actually pushed his once, out of curiosity. And no, he was not 7 years old. This button is primarily for safety purposes. In some rare cases, clear signage is ignored and metal objects like mop buckets, oxygen tanks, etc. get sucked into the bore of the MRI. These are very difficult to remove while the magnet is at field. And, if a patient is somehow pinned inside, an emergency push of the quench button can be a lifesaver. The button artificially heats the magnet and starts the chain reaction described above.
  3. (physics) A rapid change of the parameters of a physical system.