bur·​nish | \ ˈbər-nish How to pronounce burnish (audio) \
burnished; burnishing; burnishes

Definition of burnish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to make shiny or lustrous especially by rubbing burnish leather burnishing his sword
b : polish sense 3 attempting to burnish her image
2 : to rub (a material) with a tool for compacting or smoothing or for turning an edge pottery with a smooth burnished surface



Definition of burnish (Entry 2 of 2)

Other Words from burnish


burnisher noun
burnishing adjective or noun

Synonyms for burnish

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of burnish in a Sentence

Verb burnished the floor of the ballroom to a soft luster Noun after some much-needed polishing, the silver tea set had a brilliant burnish
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Victories would burnish his standing as the leader of the party, while losses could undercut his claim to a third White House nomination. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, 7 Aug. 2022 Easy victories, plus being an Ivy League school could burnish the academic reputation of both schools. Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2022 As with design oversight for public monuments, professional workshopping can burnish and improve a new opera. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 To help burnish his appeal among women, allies had encouraged him to tap his former agriculture minister, Tereza Cristina, as his vice president. David Biller And DÉbora Álvares, ajc, 24 July 2022 Vice, another digital media darling, initially used a TV deal with HBO to help burnish and grow its overall business. Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 July 2022 The point of these votes is to be disruptive to the process, while also allowing the member to burnish their image as an outsider, according to experts and congressional observers. Tia Mitchell, ajc, 27 May 2022 Taiwan has used its success with Covid to burnish its image as a beacon of democracy, in contrast to the authoritarian Communist Party of China, which claims the island as its territory. New York Times, 9 May 2022 The Academy election will burnish San Diego County’s already bright reputation in science. San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In William Faulkner’s Sanctuary, Temple Drake is taken to a brothel by a sinister bootlegger, but our version had no gothic burnish. Rachel Kushner, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 The dark burnish brings deep savory notes, but even a hint of burn will make the whole mole bitter. Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2020 The cream turns into a rich sauce and the cheese gets bubbly-brown; the greens towards the top burnish (kale chips!) but those underneath stay silky-soft. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, 17 Dec. 2019 As each streetlamp passed, the burnish of its reflected light rolled up alongside them on the asphalt, like a dolphin curious about a new boat in her waters, and then veered away. Caleb Crain, Harper's magazine, 22 July 2019 Perhaps the open roasting caused the sugar to caramelize, adding a slightly bitter burnish that mitigated the awful sweetness. Mimi Sheraton, The Seattle Times, 25 Sep. 2018 The reds of radishes and tomatoes, the burnish of crisped bacon and bright greens of beans and hardy lettuces showed through milky dressings that coated each piece. Bonnie S. Benwick, charlotteobserver, 1 May 2018 A renovation, completed in late 2015, with updates this spring and summer to some of its signature restaurants, adds a new burnish to this destination, just as Mexico City itself is becoming a must-go spot, especially for the international jet set. Melena Ryzik, New York Times, 7 Apr. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'burnish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of burnish


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1646, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for burnish

Verb and Noun

Middle English burnischen, from Anglo-French burniss-, stem of burnir, alteration of Old French brunir, literally, to make brown, from brun

Buying Guide

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Time Traveler for burnish

Time Traveler

The first known use of burnish was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near burnish



burnished gold

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Statistics for burnish

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Burnish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burnish. Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for burnish


bur·​nish | \ ˈbər-nish How to pronounce burnish (audio) \
burnished; burnishing

Kids Definition of burnish

: to make shiny

More from Merriam-Webster on burnish

Nglish: Translation of burnish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of burnish for Arabic Speakers


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