noun, often attributive
\ ˈtȯrch How to pronounce torch (audio) \

Definition of torch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a burning stick of resinous wood or twist of tow used to give light and usually carried in the hand : flambeau
2 : something (such as tradition, wisdom, or knowledge) likened to a torch as giving light or guidance pass the torch to the next generation
3 : any of various portable devices for emitting an unusually hot flame — compare blowtorch
4 chiefly British : flashlight sense 1


torched; torching; torches

Definition of torch (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to set fire to with or as if with a torch

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Synonyms & Antonyms for torch

Synonyms: Noun

arsonist, firebug, incendiary

Synonyms: Verb

burn, enkindle, fire, ignite, inflame (also enflame), kindle, light

Antonyms: Verb

douse (also dowse), extinguish, put out, quench, snuff (out)

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Examples of torch in a Sentence


in an insurance scam, the slumlord hired a torch to burn the tenement down


An arsonist torched the building. police suspect that the owner torched the house for the insurance money
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Hiking during the summer can feel like walking across a hot griddle with a blow torch aimed at your face. Pam Leblanc, The Know, "Five tips to help you keep your cool while hiking on a hot summer day," 10 July 2019 When the lights went out, Shining Path sometimes lit torches in the shape of a giant hammer and sickle in the mountains above Lima. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 The tracks were left in an ancient layer of clay and record how a small group of hunter-gatherers, carrying makeshift torches, waded through ponds and sometimes crawled on their hands and knees to explore the cave. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "14,000-year-old footprints record an underground Stone Age family outing," 29 May 2019 Edward is now in the process of passing the torch to his son Adrian Davila. Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News, "52 Weeks of BBQ: Davila’s BBQ," 30 Mar. 2018 Pack Goal Zero’s Torch 250 Flashlight ($79.95) to use as a flashlight or tabletop torch, with multiple light options and even a hand crank to keep it powered up on your trip. Nena Farrell, Sunset, "How to DIY an Insta-Worthy Car Camper," 22 Jan. 2018 Naturally, longtime fans of Extreme Makeover were upset by the change—some even threatened to boycott the show—but Ty seems happy to pass the torch to Jesse. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Ty Pennington Speaks Out About Being Replaced on 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'," 30 June 2019 If a spot was particularly problematic and an inspector wasn't looking, a cutting torch might have been used here and there to help the holes line up., "Who named the Dolly Parton Bridge?," 30 June 2019 Next week will also be a big one at Portland Public Schools as school board members Julie Esparza Brown, Paul Anthony and Mike Rosen pass the torch to the three people who won their seats during the May special election., "Portland teen takes first in ‘Jeopardy!’ tournament, Seaside charter school begins prepping kids for ‘The Big One:’ The week in education," 29 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Camp Fire, in less than 24 hours, had torched over 31 square miles and scorched Paradise, California. Kristin Lam, USA TODAY, "Northern California town of Paradise lost 90% of its population after Camp Fire, data shows," 11 July 2019 The bullpen was torched, right-hander Matt Andriese in particular. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Breaking point: Diamondbacks fall to Giants to complete inconsistent month," 30 June 2019 The secondary, which was torched in the title game by Trevor Lawrence, returns three starters including Patrick Surtain II. Matt Murschel,, "Three questions facing the SEC this offseason," 7 June 2019 Witnesses and protest leaders say Sudanese security forces opened fire, torched tents and killed at least 35 people Monday at the demonstrators’ main sit-in site in the capital, Khartoum. Washington Post, "The Latest: EgyptAir cancels 2 flights to Sudan’s capital," 5 June 2019 The Yankees torched Rick Porcello for six runs in only one-third of an inning. Globe Staff,, "Red Sox help grow the game, but also their deficit," 29 June 2019 Luton, who played at Idaho and Ventura Community College before coming to OSU, torched the Colorado defense in the second half last year, but that’s really been the highlight of his two seasons with the Beavers. Brian Howell, The Denver Post, "Pac-12 college football preview 2019: Talented quarterbacks to spark teams," 26 June 2019 In October 2017, a series of fatal wildfires torched the North Bay Wine Country and nearby regions. George Avalos, The Mercury News, "PG&E seeks $10.9 million in bonuses for execs amid wildfire woes, bankruptcy," 20 June 2019 The Ink Fire torched 50 acres and was 85 percent contained by Sunday, according to Cal Fire. Gwendolyn Wu,, "Sand Fire in Yolo County torches 1,800 acres, forcing evacuations," 9 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'torch.' 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 torch


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1901, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for torch


Middle English torche, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *torca, alteration of Latin torqua something twisted, collar of twisted metal, alteration of torques; akin to Latin torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

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Statistics for torch

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for torch

The first known use of torch was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for torch



English Language Learners Definition of torch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long stick with material at one end that burns brightly



English Language Learners Definition of torch (Entry 2 of 2)

: to set fire to (something, such as a building) deliberately : to cause (something) to burn


\ ˈtȯrch How to pronounce torch (audio) \

Kids Definition of torch

1 : a flaming light that is made of something which burns brightly and that is usually carried in the hand
2 : something that gives light or guidance She passed the torch of family traditions to her children.
3 : a portable device for producing a hot flame a welder's torch


\ ˈtȯrch How to pronounce TORCH (audio) \

Medical Definition of TORCH

: a group of pathological agents that cause similar symptoms in newborns and that include especially a toxoplasma (Toxoplasma gonii), cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, and the togavirus causing German measles

History and Etymology for torch

toxoplasma, rubella virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus

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More from Merriam-Webster on torch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with torch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for torch

Spanish Central: Translation of torch

Nglish: Translation of torch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of torch for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about torch

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