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

Those who will be starting the fire with drip torches, each containing a mix of diesel and gasoline, huddle around the team leader who is sketching the contours of the slope in front of them in the dirt. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Wet California winter is a boon for skiers and water supply. But it brings a threat: wildfires.," 17 June 2019 The flyers depict a hooded figure dressed in KKK garb, holding a torch above his head while riding a horse and wearing KKK robes. Leah Asmelash, CNN, "Apparent KKK recruitment flyers were found at a high school in Texas. Officials are investigating," 13 Sep. 2019 This will be the first of many Super Bowls for Mahomes, who will take the torch from Brady. Dan Labbe,, "Will the Patriots repeat as Super Bowl champs? Super Bowl predictions," 5 Sep. 2019 Paul’s crusade in the 1920s was unsuccessful, but in the 1950s, Michigan Congresswoman Martha Griffiths took up the torch. Tara Law, Time, "The U.S. Constitution Doesn’t Guarantee Equal Rights for Women. Here’s Why," 23 Aug. 2019 El Sayed will sometimes use a torch to singe the skin of a bird or the scales of a fish. David Kortava, The New Yorker, "Kabab Café’s “Snout to Tail” Delicacies," 23 Aug. 2019 Authorities said Nayeri and three others plotted to kidnap and rob the man, who was bound and burned with a blow torch while his captors drove through the desert demanding the money. San Diego Union-Tribune, "California man convicted of torture of pot dispensary owner," 16 Aug. 2019 The mystical video for the song evokes the world of Vikings and myths through imagery of fire and water and enigmatic dancers by the sea, with Aimer in a flowing white dress holding up a flaming torch to find her way in the dark. Billboard Japan, Billboard, "Watch J-Pop Singer Aimer's Promotional Clip for 'Torches'," 31 July 2019 Without that pair taking a torch to the late innings, things have been far easier for manager Dave Martinez. Jon Tayler,, "The Nationals' Revival Has Been Miraculous. This Is Why We Wrote Them Off in May," 18 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Cleveland’s dynamic duo torched Golden State at a historic clip in the series’ final three games. Michael Shapiro,, "Ranking the Best NBA Finals of the Past Decade," 16 Sep. 2019 Last season, receiver Michael Thomas torched the Rams for 12 catches, 221 yards and a touchdown in regular-season victory, but the Rams limited him to four receptions for 36 yards in the NFC championship game. Los Angeles Times, "Rams vs. Saints: How the teams match up for Sunday’s game," 14 Sep. 2019 Quick hits • While Bedford played on the road, Trinity torched its turf to the tune of 473 yards in a 48-20 win vs. Hawken. Matt Goul,, "Perry QB Drew Schiano ties OHSAA state touchdown record: Week 1 quick hits," 1 Sep. 2019 In May, gunmen torched a church in another northern village, claiming the lives of a priest and five parishioners. Washington Post, "Islamist militants are targeting Christians in Burkina Faso: ‘They are planting seeds of a religious conflict’," 20 Aug. 2019 In California alone, wildfires over the last two years torched more than 33,000 houses, outbuildings and other structures and killed 146 people. Matthew Brown,, "Wildfires fueled by climate change will mean shorter lives for many Americans," 25 June 2019 No time was that more evident than when Prescott and Smith torched cornerback Josh Norman for a 51-yard TD in the second quarter. oregonlive, "Dallas Cowboys roll past Washington: Recap, score, stats and more," 15 Sep. 2019 Though running backs Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard — who torched South Alabama for three touchdowns in last year’s 52-35 Memphis win — are gone to the NFL, the Tigers return Brady White, one of the top quarterbacks among Group of 5 schools. Creg Stephenson |, al, "South Alabama looking for better defensive start vs. ‘explosive’ Memphis," 9 Sep. 2019 Two of Boston’s hits came from Mookie Betts, who torched the Twins a night before with five runs driven in. Betsy Helfand, Twin Cities, "Twins finish wild, fulfilling road trip with win over Red Sox," 5 Sep. 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

9 Oct 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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