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

As Breitbart’s traffic declined following the departure of Bannon, other right-wing sites picked up the torch. David French, Time, "My Fellow Republicans Must Stand Against the Alt-Right Virus Infecting America," 8 Aug. 2019 The Saunderson Brothers are actively keeping the Detroit techno torch burning with stellar DJ sets and inventive original productions. Lily Moayeri, Billboard, "Family Business: Five Famous DJs Whose Children Followed In Their Footsteps," 2 Aug. 2019 The Greek neo-fascist party Golden Dawn gathers each year at Thermopylae, lighting torches and chanting anti-immigrant nationalist slogans. Myke Cole, The New Republic, "The Sparta Fetish Is a Cultural Cancer," 1 Aug. 2019 To be able to not only share this with these people, but also our young players and be able to pass the torch is awesome. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Young Rockies inspired by visiting patients at Walter Reed military hospital," 23 July 2019 In other words, if a person in Philadelphia was holding up a dime, a person in New York with the telescope could see the person, the dime, and torch inscribed on the dime. CBS News, "Building Giant Magellan, the world's largest telescope," 18 July 2019 Some of these grassroots activists quickly became torch holders of Trumpian doctrines, such as Ellen Lee Zhou, a mayoral candidate in San Francisco. Rong Xiaoqing, National Review, "The Rise of the Chinese-American Right," 17 July 2019 That led to the opening ceremonies, where kids danced and sang and the torch was lit, and carried over to the games, where parents and kids, like the Walkers, came out to watch other teams play. Giana Han,, "After watching Charm City Games kick off, Baltimore community wants to ‘keep it going’," 16 July 2019 The use of welding equipment and torches is prohibited., "Can I build a campfire in the Columbia gorge? Fire restrictions announced," 10 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In California alone, wildfires over the past two years torched more than 33,000 houses, outbuildings and other structures and killed 146 people. Matthew Brown, Anchorage Daily News, "Smoke from more intense Western US wildfires raises health risks," 25 June 2019 Next was the offense, which torched Colorado pitching for the second straight day and romped over the Rockies 11-5 to extend the Yankees' winning streak to five. Ronald Blum,, "Hot day, hot bats: Yanks torch Rockies 11-5, win 5th in row," 20 July 2019 The Giants torched German Marquez for 11 runs in 2 ⅔ innings. Henry Schulman,, "Giants win the easy way and the hard way in doubleheader sweep of Rockies," 15 July 2019 Demonstrations against the Tekah shooting have turned violent with Molotov cocktails thrown, cars torched, hundreds arrested, and according to reports, nearly 110 police officers were also wounded. Haleluya Hadero, Quartz Africa, "Ethiopian-Israelis are protesting against police brutality after another shooting," 11 July 2019 In the following two days, protesters torched cars, damaged ambulances and burned tires as the violence spread across the country. Oren Liebermann, CNN, "An off-duty police officer shot dead an unarmed black teen, sparking riots. But it didn't happen where you think," 4 July 2019 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

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

14 Aug 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

Comments on torch

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


of or relating to the heavens

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