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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), Icelandic sólbruni (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 tomatoesgrapes, 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)

  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, On the Road, Penguin, 1999, Part 3, Chapter 1, p. 171,[4]
      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,[5]
      “Oh shoot, I’ve sunburned the top half of my boobs,” she said, frowning down her chest.