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)

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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 But in the past week, the administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to burnish Trump's anti-China bona fides. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "Trump’s China hawks are taking wing," 26 June 2020 This will burnish the spine and create slight burs on the edges. Popular Science, "Eight survival knife skills you might need in an emergency," 15 June 2020 For now, Bostock seems bound to serve conservatives with an example of two justices playing against type to burnish the image of the Supreme Court as a fair-minded tribunal. The Economist, "LGBT rights America’s Supreme Court protects LGBT workers against discrimination," 18 June 2020 This will burnish the spine and create slight burs on the edges. Popular Science, "Eight survival knife skills you might need in an emergency," 15 June 2020 Since then, civic groups and business leaders have looked for a way to burnish the city’s image, and most have focused on the Confederate statue by the courthouse. Kyle Whitmire, al, "Don’t be fooled. Huntsville’s Confederate monument isn’t going anywhere.," 11 June 2020 The contrasts between the two young men, who come from wildly different eras but occupy the same physical space, burnish the power of the book’s narrative. Joan Gaylord, The Christian Science Monitor, "For the love of language: ‘Our Riches’ celebrates reading," 2 June 2020 This will burnish the spine and create slight burs on the edges. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "8 Different Ways to use a Survival Knife in an Emergency," 29 May 2020 Countless other opera houses are also under pressure: The Lyric Opera in Chicago had to cancel its Ring cycle by Wagner—an expensive undertaking and one that burnishes a company's prestige—and will lose $13.6 million from spring cancellations. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Opera houses face two daunting uncertainties: Reopen dates and funding from wealthy donors," 19 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The dark burnish brings deep savory notes, but even a hint of burn will make the whole mole bitter. Los Angeles Times, "Figs make this mole recipe uniquely Los Angeles," 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, "Why Is Cheddar Cheese Orange Sometimes?," 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, "Talkin’ ’Bout a Revolution," 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, "Sweet sorrow: A food critic wants maple syrup to die," 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, "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

Verb and Noun

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

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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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Statistics for burnish

Last Updated

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Burnish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burnish. Accessed 15 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for burnish


How to pronounce burnish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of burnish

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


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

Kids Definition of burnish

: to make shiny

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More from Merriam-Webster on burnish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for burnish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with burnish

Spanish Central: Translation of burnish

Nglish: Translation of burnish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of burnish for Arabic Speakers

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