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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for torch

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of torch in a Sentence

Noun in an insurance scam, the slumlord hired a torch to burn the tenement down Verb An arsonist torched the building. police suspect that the owner torched the house for the insurance money
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Now others are trying to pick up the torch of the dad-daughter sports connection. Eric Sondheimer Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: The rise of Girl Dads in Southland includes former pro stars," 29 Dec. 2020 But please do not mistake Friday night as the passing of the torch. Dallas News, "The NBA torch isn’t going from LeBron to Luka on Christmas, but King James has all but anointed Doncic his heir apparent," 24 Dec. 2020 Isaac Slade-Matautia returns as the starting middle linebacker and will carry the torch as the leader of this year’s defense. oregonlive, "Oregon Ducks fall camp breakdown: Inside linebackers," 7 Oct. 2020 During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China imposed restrictions on climbers on the Tibet side of the mountain so that an official expedition could carry the Olympic torch to the top without incident. Freddie Wilkinson, National Geographic, "How do you measure Everest? It's complicated by frostbite—and politics.," 28 Sep. 2020 There were personal papers strewn throughout the living room, where McCarty’s body was located, according to the affidavit, as well as a propane torch that was still venting. oregonlive, "Fatal Vancouver-area house fire investigated as arson, possible homicide," 19 Nov. 2020 He's regularly mocked by just about everyone in the town, young and old, but his old high-school torch (Julie Bowen, comically out of his league) is one of the few who recognize and value Hubie's sweetness. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, "Review: Adam Sandler's 'Hubie Halloween' is ... good?," 7 Oct. 2020 And that means the diminished but more venomous Antifa and BLMA remnants will try to up the ante and torch, loot, shoot, maim, and wreck all the way to the suburbs. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Silence About the Violence," 1 Sep. 2020 As Rap and Pop music’s resident e-girl powerhouse, Doja Cat is the perfect Gen Z inheritor of that freaky, freaky torch. Mary Frances Knapp,, "12 Sex Toys That Scream: All Hail Doja Cat’s Light-Up VMAs Vagina," 1 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Buckeyes’ reward for not allowing Clemson’s receiving corps to torch them is a date with someone who might be the first non-quarterback to win the Heisman since 2015 in Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Can Ohio State football beat Alabama in the National Championship in spite of a monster game from Devonta Smith?," 4 Jan. 2021 Regardless of whose version is closer to the truth, Metcalf used the perceived slight as extra motivation to torch the Eagles again during the Seahawks’ 23-17 win over the Eagles Monday night. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks’ DK Metcalf burns the Philadelphia Eagles again after perceived pre-game slight from Eagles’ assistant coach," 1 Dec. 2020 And both believe that the only way to save the country is to torch that system. Andrew Cline, National Review, "Election 2020: The Airing of the Grievances," 2 Nov. 2020 Jamal Murray continues to torch the Jazz at every opportunity, the offense has begun to stagnate with a lack of ball movement, the hustle plays are no longer going their way. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah Jazz remain resolute ahead of Tuesday’s Game 7: ‘We’re not planning on going home’," 31 Aug. 2020 Russell Wilson overcame an early setback to torch the New England Patriots for 5 touchdown passes to lead the Seattle Seahawks to a 35-30 victory at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Seahawks stuff Cam Newton on final play to end Patriots' last-minute comeback bid," 21 Sep. 2020 California hit a disastrous milestone Thursday as wildfires continue to torch the west coast. TheWeek, "San Francisco's skies glow apocalyptically orange as wildfires rage in Bay Area," 9 Sep. 2020 But these are not the apparent concerns of those who carry off shoes and phones in U-Hauls, kick the unconscious on the pavement, destroy art and sculpture, or seek to torch public buildings with public servants inside. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "What Is the Violence in American Cities All About?," 27 Aug. 2020 But these are not the apparent concerns of those who carry off shoes and phones in U-Hauls, kick the unconscious on the pavement, destroy art and sculptures, or seek to torch public buildings with public servants inside. Victor Davis Hanson Tribune News Service (tns), Star Tribune, "What is the violence in American cities all about?," 27 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about torch

Time Traveler for torch

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for torch

Last Updated

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Torch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for torch


How to pronounce torch (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!