verb, transitive + intransitive

variants or backburn
back-burned or backburned; back-burning or backburning; back-burns or backburns
: to set controlled fires to eliminate the fuel in the path of a wildfire
Much of the work has involved backburning the pine plantations and bulldozing an abundance of thick, flammable underbrush that has accumulated over the years.Jan Hollingsworth, Tampa Tribune, 8 June 1999
… bulldozing fire lines, backburning to deprive the fires of fuel and air-dropping fire retardant when the smoke is not too thick and the wind not too capricious.Gary Blonston, Miami Herald, 31 Aug. 1984
An isolated cottage … lay directly in the fire's path and our five-member crew was dispatched to back-burn.Peter Meredith, Australian Geographic, January–March 1995
… firefighters could have dug a line to stop the fire, but backburning is much more ecologically sound …Tom Ragan, Albuquerque Journal, 5 July 1997

Word History

First Known Use

1966, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of back-burn was in 1966

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Dictionary Entries Near back-burn

Cite this Entry

“Back-burn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

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