bur·nish | \ˈbər-nish \
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)

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Other Words from burnish


burnisher noun
burnishing adjective or noun

Synonyms for burnish

Synonyms: Verb

buff, dress, furbish, gloss, grind, polish, rub, shine, smooth

Synonyms: Noun

gloss, luminance, luster (or lustre), polish, sheen, shine

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Examples of burnish in a Sentence


burnished the floor of the ballroom to a soft luster


after some much-needed polishing, the silver tea set had a brilliant burnish

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The youth and inexperience that was supposed to plague the Spartans in 2017 has quickly become seasoned and strong, burnished by hard fought wins at Michigan and home against Penn State. Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football or Michigan State, who is better? It's an easy call," 10 July 2018 Rubio's national profile, burnished by his presidential run in 2016, has made him a higher target for criticism, said Ornstein. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Sen. Marco Rubio's comments on GOP tax cuts draw accusations of inconsistency," 16 May 2018 Schneiderman's campaign accounts were substantial, with more than $8.5 million in the bank, an increasingly high profile burnished by his long battles with Trump and appearances on national talk shows. Author: Jesse Mckinley, Anchorage Daily News, "New York attorney general’s reputation went from ‘wouldn’t get a bawdy joke’ to cad overnight," 9 May 2018 The weekly appearances helped burnish Trump’s political credentials, at least with more than a million viewers of the morning program. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Former Fox executive Bill Shine joins White House as communications chief," 5 July 2018 The weekly appearances helped burnish Trump's political credentials, at least with more than a million viewers of the morning program. Paul Farhi And Felicia Sonmez, chicagotribune.com, "Former Fox News executive Bill Shine joins Trump White House as deputy chief of staff for communications," 5 July 2018 Using American ink on English card, the invitations are printed in gold and black, then burnished to bring out the shine, and gilded around the edge. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's royal wedding: Everything you need to know," 4 May 2018 Boy Scouts have their Eagle Scout — an award that burnishes resumes and college applications. Cortlynn Stark, kansascity, "More than 100 Kansas City girls have joined Cub Scouts. Here's why," 25 June 2018 With his visit to Jordan, Corbyn appeared to be burnishing his foreign policy credentials. Karin Laub, Fox News, "Corbyn: Labour government would quickly recognize Palestine," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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, "You don’t need romaine lettuce to make a great chopped salad | Charlotte Observer," 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, "In Mexico City, a Beacon of Luxury Shines Brighter," 7 Apr. 2017

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.

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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


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


see burnish entry 1

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Statistics for burnish

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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

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More Definitions for burnish



English Language Learners Definition of burnish

: to make (something, such as metal or leather) smooth and shiny by rubbing it


bur·nish | \ˈbər-nish \
burnished; burnishing

Kids Definition of burnish

: to make shiny

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Comments on burnish

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


one that holds something together

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