From Middle English sere, seer, seere, from Old English sēar, sīere (“dry, sere, sear, withered, barren”), from Proto-West Germanic *sauʀ(ī), from Proto-Germanic *sauzaz (“dry”), from Proto-Indo-European *sh₂ews- (“dry, parched”) (also reconstructed as *h₂sews-).
Cognate with Dutch zoor (“dry, rough”), Low German soor (“dry”), German sohr (“parched, dried up”), dialectal Norwegian søyr (“the desiccation and death of a tree”), Lithuanian saũsas (“dry”), Homeric Ancient Greek αὖος (aûos, “dry”). Doublet of sere and sare.
- Dry; withered, especially of vegetation.
- 1620 January 17 (first performance; Gregorian calendar), Benjamin Jonson [i.e., Ben Jonson], “Newes from the New World Discover’d in the Moon. A Masque, […]”, in The Workes of Benjamin Jonson. The Second Volume. […] (Second Folio), London: […] Richard Meighen, published 1640–1641, OCLC 51546498, page 42:
- There are in all but three vvayes of going thither [to the moon]. […] [The] third, Old Empedocles vvay; vvho vvhen he leaped into Ætna, having a drie ſeare bodie, and light, the ſmoake took him and vvhift him up into the Moone, vvhere he lives yet vvaving up and dovvne like a feather, all foot and embers comming out of that cole-pit; our Poet met him, and talkt vvith him.
- 1810, Walter Scott, “Canto III. The Gathering.”, in The Lady of the Lake; a Poem, Edinburgh: […] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for John Ballantyne and Co.; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, and William Miller, OCLC 6632529, stanza XVI, page 118:
- The autumn winds rushing / Waft the leaves that are searest, / But our flower was in flushing, / When blighting was nearest.
From Middle English seren, seeren, from Old English sēarian (“to become sere, to grow sear, wither, pine away”), from Proto-West Germanic *sauʀēn (“to dry out, become dry”); compare also Proto-Germanic *sauzijaną (“to make dry”). Related to Old High German sōrēn (“to wither, wilt”). See Etymology 1 for more cognates. The use in firearms terminology may relate to French serrer (“to grip”).
- (transitive) To char, scorch, or burn the surface of (something) with a hot instrument.
- 2001, Ben Stivers, Wrath of Magic, page 123:
- I will sear the skin from your flesh. You will die a thousand deaths!
- 2010, Jeff Potter, Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food, page 180:
- When you drop the tuna onto the pan, the outside will sear and cook quickly while leaving as much of the center as possible in its raw state.
- 2016, Melissa Cookston, Smokin' Hot in the South, page 12:
- I often will sear steaks, move them to a cooler side, then use the hot side to grill or sauté vegetables, make a sauce in a cast-iron skillet, or grill some fruit for dessert while the steak finishes.
- To wither; to dry up.
- 1852 May, Henry F. French, “Some Remarks on Subsoil Plowing”, in The New England Farmer, volume 4, number 5, page 231:
- The drought was so severe as to sear the grass and the leaves of maple trees which had grown well for two years, standing in sward land by the roadside, and yet the corn, within ten feet, on the subsoiled land, did not roll once in the whole season, even at mid-day, and there was scarcely another piece in the neighborhood which escaped serious injury.
- 1971, Chapters From the American Experience, page 277:
- The spring and summer of 1936 brought to the Great Plains one of those terrible periodic droughts that sear the crops and convert the “short-grass country” into a desert.
- 2014, Bernard N. Lee, Jr., Michele Barand, A Look Back in Time, page 50:
- The early morning sun had begun to sear the grass.
- 2018, Michael Furie, Peg Aloi, JD Hortwort, Llewellyn's 2019 Sabbats Almanac:
- She might just as easily have been a goddess of the harvest, since the ancient Greeks sowed in the fall and reaped in the spring before the dry heat of summer could sear the crops in the fields.
- (transitive, figuratively) To make callous or insensible.
- (transitive, figuratively) To mark permanently, as if by burning.
- The events of that day were seared into her memory.
sear (plural sears)
- MacBain, Alexander; Mackay, Eneas (1911), “sear”, in An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language, Stirling, →ISBN
|Inflection of sear|
- “sear (I)”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011