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From Middle English *sunne burnen, *sonne brennen, *sunne brennen (suggested by derivatives sonne brennynge, sunne brennynge (sunburn, literally sun-burning) and sunne brente (sunburnt), equivalent to sun +‎ burn. Compare West Frisian sinnebrân (sunburn), Dutch zonnebrand (sunburn), German Sonnenbrand (sunburn), Swedish solbränna (sunburn), and Icelandic sólbruni (sunburn), as well as Old English sunbryne (sunburn).



sunburn (countable and uncountable, plural sunburns)

  1. A burn on the skin caused by excess exposure to the sun's rays.
  2. A burn on the tissue of crop plants or their fruits (especially if they are rich in water like tomatoes, grapes, apples, gooseberries) caused by excess exposure to the sun's rays.
    Synonym: sunscald

Related terms[edit]



sunburn (third-person singular simple present sunburns, present participle sunburning, simple past and past participle sunburned or (mostly Commonwealth) sunburnt)

  1. (intransitive) To receive a sunburn.
    • c. 1613, John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi, London: D.N. and T.C., 1678, Act V, Scene 2, p. 64,[1]
      I have brought
      Your grace a Salamanders skin, to keep you
      From sun-burning.
    • 1724, Aaron Hill, The Plain Dealer, No. 81, 28 December, 1724, London: S. Richardson and A. Wilde, Volume 2, p. 199,[2]
      [] there is a a Country, in the World, call’d Turkey; where Women are secur’d against the Danger of Sun-burning, by being kept out of the open Air, and lock’d up, like other Jewels, in Places where no Mischief can reach ’em.
    • 2012, Grant, Greg, Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening, Minneapolis: Cool Springs Press, →ISBN, pages 148–149:
      All foliage is necessary in Texas to keep the tomato fruit from sunburning.
  2. (transitive) To burn or tan (someone's skin) by the sun; to allow (a part of one's body) to become sunburnt.
    • 1668, John Dryden, Sir Martin Mar-all, London: H. Herringman, Act II, p. 11,[3]
      My Aunt charg’d me not to pull off my Glove for fear of Sun-burning my hand.
    • 1957, Jack Kerouac, chapter 1, in On the Road, Viking Press, OCLC 43419454, part 3:
      As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert []
    • 1989, Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees, New York: Harper and Row, Chapter 7, p. 95,[4]
      “Oh shoot, I’ve sunburned the top half of my boobs,” she said, frowning down her chest.