Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

burke

play
verb \ˈbərk\

Definition of burke

burkedburking

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to suppress quietly or indirectly <burke an inquiry>

  3. 2 :  bypass, avoid <burke an issue>



Examples of burke in a sentence

  1. <the executives knew that the drug had dangerous side effects, but they burked the findings>



Did You Know?

When an elderly pensioner died at the Edinburgh boarding house of William Hare in 1827, the proprietor and his friend William Burke decided to sell the body to a local anatomy school. The sale was so lucrative that they decided to make sure they could repeat it. They began luring nameless wanderers (who were not likely to be missed) into the house, getting them drunk, then smothering or strangling them and selling the bodies. The two disposed of at least 15 victims before murdering a local woman whose disappearance led to their arrest. At Burke's execution (by hanging), irate crowds shouted "Burke him!" As a result of the case, the word burke became a byword first for death by suffocation or strangulation and eventually for any cover-up.

Origin of burke

from burke to suffocate, from William Burke †1829 Irish criminal executed for smothering victims to sell their bodies for dissection


First Known Use: 1829

Rhymes with burke


Burke

play
biographical name \ˈbərk\

Definition of Burke

  1. Edmund 1729–1797 British statesman & orator

Burkean or Burkian play \ˈbər-kē-ən\ adjective


Rhymes with burke


Learn More about burke


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up burke? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to eat gluttonously or ravenously

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image567572573

Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

maudlin prompt oily angry
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ