noun, often attributive
\ˈtȯrch \

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

Turns out, a hot late-June night and a stage accented with tiki torches was the perfect setting for a crowd eager to raise their beers and sing along with a happy-go-lucky presence like Currington as their ringmaster. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Best and worst of Summerfest Day 3: BlocBoy JB, Billy Currington, MILCK and more," 30 June 2018 These episodes are unsavory occasions for voyeurism, and an apology adds nothing except a warm tingle of sanctimony for those who chase the adulterers with torches and pitchforks. Marcia Desanctis, Town & Country, "Mark Sanford, Act II," 14 Feb. 2013 State Champs Another band holding that pop-punk torch high and mighty. Chris Varias,, "10 not-to-miss bands at final Vans Warped Tour," 11 July 2018 With this likely being Lamar Miller’s final season in Houston, the torch will be passed to the former Texas Longhorn. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "10 fantasy football sleepers we're irrationally excited about in 2018," 10 July 2018 Now he’s passing the torch to the city’s minority youth at Twelve Literary Arts (TLA). Christopher Johnston, The Christian Science Monitor, "Cleveland uses literature to empower youth, overcome social divides," 9 July 2018 Weezer later picked up the torch of inventive guitar rock, as the band’s debut album arrived in stores in May 1994 — one month after Cobain’s death. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "5 ways Weezer and Pixies conjured nostalgic magic at Ruoff amphitheater," 9 July 2018 Barkley looks set to carry on the recent trend of dominant rookie backs, taking the torch from Ezekiel Elliott and Kareem Hunt. Michael Beller,, "Fantasy Football 2018 Sleepers: Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Eli Manning," 3 July 2018 Initially, Brennan envisioned musicians just playing along the river banks surrounded by tiki torches. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Houston man splices together a record label," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

More than 100 people were arrested in Paris following violent May Day protests that saw at least six cars torched, a McDonald’s restaurant smashed up and widespread vandalism. Fox News, "Violent Paris May Day protests leaves cars torched, McDonald's smashed; more than 100 arrested," 2 Oct. 2018 Security forces eventually withdrew from the provincial council building following which, the protesters broke in and torched it, according to Mr. Hadi and local officials. Ghassan Adnan And Ali Nabhan, WSJ, "Iraq to Investigate Protesters’ Deaths as Anger Grows," 5 Sep. 2018 Then Tom Brady torched them in the fourth quarter of the AFC title game. Albert Breer,, "Great Expectations Across the NFL: 10 Teams, Coaches and Players (Plus a Broadcaster) Staring Down a Huge 2018," 31 May 2018 Look at the Philly game, a quality offense that torched them. Brad Biggs,, "Bears Q&A: Do the Bears have a new approach in the weight room? What is Kyle Fuller's contract moving forward?," 28 Mar. 2018 Out of the lineup is Matt Davidson, who has torched Royals pitching this season (.462/.562/1.038, seven home runs, 12 RBIs in seven games). Phil Rogers,, "Outfielder Ryan LaMarre to make first White Sox start Friday vs. Royals," 13 July 2018 Between us and the flames was a grass field that three years earlier had torched in half an hour. Kyle Dickman, Outside Online, "A Rattle with Death in Yosemite," 20 June 2018 Darkman is Peyton Westlake, a scientist attacked by gangsters who torch his laboratory and leave him for dead. Charles Stockdale And John Harrington, USA TODAY, "The 24 most forgettable superheroes in movies," 5 July 2018 Yes, the same guy who was torched for six runs and 10 baserunners in 2 2/3 innings when the Yankees last saw him Saturday, but could be a stabilizing force down the stretch. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Yankees' pitching needs mean Manny Machado must wait 'til winter for his pinstripes," 11 July 2018

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

20 Nov 2018

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 \

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 \

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).


living or existing for a long time

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