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 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 Mellon worked at Briggs Manufacturing, burnishing parts for bombers rolling off the assembly line at Henry Ford’s mammoth Willow Run plant nearby. Robert Clark, National Geographic, "Mallie hadn't heard of Rosie the Riveter—the term used to describe women who worked in defense plants—until five years ago.," 6 May 2020 But his fame went international, burnished by his musician family. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Legendary jazz musician and teacher Ellis Marsalis Jr. dies at age 85," 2 Apr. 2020 Simon and his cowriter Ed Burns have created a series that is worthy in feel, burnished with an old-fashioned Hollywood ’40s light, and actually a bit old-fashioned too. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "The Plot Against America," 16 Mar. 2020 In a self-fulfilling prophecy, Putin convinced himself that the only way to restore and burnish Russian power was through first assembling and then maintaining unitary power for himself. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, "Vladimir Putin Positions Himself to Become Russia’s Eternal Leader," 12 Mar. 2020 September is an excellent time for public appearances, since your reputation is burnished to a high polish. oregonlive, "Horoscope for March 6, 2020: Virgo, full speed ahead; Pisces, work toward the future," 6 Mar. 2020 Rodgers has the Packers, seeded second in the NFC, on the verge of another Super Bowl appearance after a dominant home win over the Seattle Seahawks, and a second title would burnish one of the best quarterback résumés of all time. Anchorage Daily News, "What to know about the NFL’s conference championship games," 19 Jan. 2020 Tsai’s lead is helped by Beijing’s continuing hardline policy against the island and its iron grip on Hong Kong, which burnish her credentials as a leader committed to protecting Taiwan from Chinese encroachment. Isabella Steger, Quartz, "Taiwan’s president is battling a deluge of election-linked homophobic fake news," 6 Jan. 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 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Burnish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burnish. Accessed 7 Jun. 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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