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From Middle English scorchen, scorcnen (to make dry; parch), perhaps an alteration of earlier *scorpnen, from Old Norse skorpna (to shrivel up)[1].



scorch (countable and uncountable, plural scorches)

  1. A slight or surface burn.
  2. A discolouration caused by heat.
  3. (phytopathology) Brown discoloration on the leaves of plants caused by heat, lack of water or by fungi.


Derived terms[edit]



scorch (third-person singular simple present scorches, present participle scorching, simple past and past participle scorched)

  1. (transitive) To burn the surface of something so as to discolour it
  2. (transitive) To wither, parch or destroy something by heat or fire, especially to make land or buildings unusable to an enemy
    • 1709, Matthew Prior, Pleasure:
      Lashed by mad rage, and scorched by brutal fires.
  3. (ergative) (To cause) to become scorched or singed
  4. (intransitive) To move at high speed (so as to leave scorch marks on the ground, physically or figuratively).
    • 1898, H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, London: William Heinemann, page 289:
      Men on cycles, lean-faced, unkempt, scorched along every country lane, shouting of unhoped deliverance, shouting to gaunt, staring figures of despair.
  5. To burn; to destroy by, or as by, fire.
  6. (transitive) To attack with bitter sarcasm or virulence.
  7. (intransitive, colloquial, dated) To ride a bicycle furiously on a public highway.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “scorch”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.