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

More than 40 years later, the ex-husband was apparently still carrying a torch — for the Rolls-Royce. James Barron, The Mercury News, "Piedmont man sells Elizabeth Taylor’s ‘Green Goddess’ Rolls-Royce at auction," 2 Aug. 2019 Expect Williamson to carry the torch for the Jordan Brand line for some time. Jarrel Harris,, "What Jordan Brand Sneaker Should Zion Williamson Wear?," 30 July 2019 Today's scientists hope to carry the torch further. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "“Alarms Went off in the Spacecraft.” How IBM Computer Whizzes Saved Apollo 11," 20 July 2019 Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, like so many black mothers who never asked for such a soul-shattering burden, now carries the torch for her dead son and dead granddaughter. Jason Parham, WIRED, "Depth of Field: The Hollow Poetry of the Eric Garner Decision," 18 July 2019 To members of Mobile’s Greer family, a new downtown grocery market represents the passing of the torch as members of its fifth generation put their stamp on the family business., "New downtown Greer’s called ‘tipping point’ for Mobile," 10 July 2019 That’s a long time to carry a torch for the founders’ stated intention to create a democratic republic. Taina Mcfield, Essence, "My True Independence Day Hasn't Arrived Yet," 4 July 2019 With the assistance of Special Olympic athletes, police will carry the torch for 6 miles around the park. Jess Nocera,, "Special Olympics torch will be passed to Howard County Thursday," 5 June 2019 Other lands have given up hope on passing the torch. Rina Raphael, New York Times, "Why Doesn’t Anyone Want to Live in This Perfect Place?," 24 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Broncos’ undrafted rookie, in Week 2 at home, torched the Raiders for 107 yards rushing on just 14 carries, including a burst of 53 through the heart of Oakland’s defense. Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post, "How Broncos’ Phillip Lindsay can grow after breakout rookie season: “My mindset is grind”," 9 Sep. 2019 The Cougs torched New Mexico State, and quarterback Anthony Gordon was lights out. oregonlive, "Goe: Utah, Washington, Oregon ... this week’s ballot for The O’s Pac-12 power rankings," 5 Sep. 2019 Seven witnesses were called to bolster another defense theory: Arsonists torched the warehouse. Megan Cassidy,, "Ghost Ship trial: Max Harris walks out of jail after acquittal; Derick Almena remains jailed after mistrial in his case," 5 Sep. 2019 Last Monday, protestors in the city of Sorong torched several buildings, including a jail, Agence France-Press reports. Time, "Protests in West Papua Have Turned Violent Amid an Internet Blackout. Here's What to Know," 29 Aug. 2019 Police in Japan are investigating why a man torched a renowned animation studio in what is being described as the country's worst mass killing in almost 20 years. Jamiel Lynch, CNN, "Crowdfunding campaign for Kyoto Animation passes $2 million mark," 24 July 2019 Police found the Mitsubishi torched about 9 p.m. at Kozart Street and Willie Mays Parkway. David Harris,, "Police looking for man who went on crime spree in Winter Garden, Orlando," 2 Apr. 2018 Against the Tide, Auburn failed to score at least 1.0 PPP for the first time in eight games, and got torched on defense by Bama freshman John Petty, who made up for Collin Sexton’s absence by knocking in eight of his 13 three-point attempts. Molly Geary,, "Power Rankings: Top Four Hold Firm While Three New Squads Join," 24 Jan. 2018 A week later, Tagovailoa torched Texas A&M on 22 of 30 passing for 387 yards and four touchdowns. Michael Casagrande |, al, "Inside intel on Tua Tagovailoa from opponents speaking candidly about Alabama QB," 21 Aug. 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

11 Sep 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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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