scorched earth

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See also: scorched-earth





Calque from Chinese 焦土 (jiāotǔ, “scorched earth; ravages of war”), originally in reference to the strategy adopted by the Chinese government in the Second Sino-Japanese War. First attested in 1937 as an idiom.[1]



scorched earth (uncountable)

  1. (military) Land that has been abandoned, in the face of an advancing enemy, after the destruction of all resources on it.
  2. (military) The strategy of destroying all resources in an area of land in order to deny their use to an advancing enemy.

Derived terms






scorched earth (comparative more scorched earth, superlative most scorched earth)

  1. Alternative spelling of scorched-earth


  1. ^ scorched earth, n.” under scorched, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.