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

But the real purpose is to serve as a heat shield—someone to roll out front when the villagers with torches and pitchforks show up at your door. Andy Kessler, WSJ, "Where in the World Is Larry Page?," 30 Dec. 2018 But for Spring, the sparkling proverbial torch was passed to hair pro Paul Hanlon—and the results were nothing short of dreamy. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Glitter Hair Gets a Fairy-Tale Makeover in Paris—And It’s Totally Magical," 1 Oct. 2018 This torch could be passed earlier than expected given the abundance of Ravens coaches who are familiar with a Jackson-friendly type of offense. Andy Benoit,, "2018 NFL Draft Grades: Analysis of All 32 Teams," 28 Apr. 2018 The concept, as McMahon and Hogan saw it, was that Hogan would defeat Andre, the torch would be passed, and wrestling would become even bigger. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "100 beers and a lot of heart: 'Andre the Giant' stands tall in HBO documentary," 10 Apr. 2018 With that, the torch for Most Meme-able Face was passed on. 2. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "10 Best Viral Memes That Took Over the Internet in 2016," 12 Dec. 2016 The same day, roadblocks forced the suspension of the annual bearing of a torch to mark the eve of the country's independence day. Javier Cordoba, Fox News, "Costa Rica shaken by rare and unruly unrest, labor strike," 14 Sep. 2018 Former teen stars Luke Perry, Molly Ringwald, Madchen Amick, Skeet Ulrich, and Robin Givens were all cast on the show as the parents, almost like a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation to the next. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "The Parents of Riverdale Were All Really Famous Teens—And Yes, They Have Stories," 7 Nov. 2018 Like Burke, Springer is stepping back from politics, handing the torch to the younger generation. Scott Wartman,, "Women want to lead Hamilton County Democrats. Five things to know ahead of Saturday's vote," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Camp Fire has so far torched more than 113,000 acres since igniting Thursday morning. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Deadly wildfires are still threatening Northern and Southern California," 12 Nov. 2018 While there is not yet a full accounting of what was lost, museum administrators have estimated 90 percent of its holdings were torched, including Egyptian antiquities, Brazilian indigenous art and documents going back hundreds of years. Mauricio Savarese, Fox News, "Brazil museum fire sparks soul searching about spending," 27 Sep. 2018 Four days later, the van was discovered stripped and torched on N. 53rd St. near W. Lisbon Ave. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Thieves steal Milwaukee family's wheelchair-accessible van for their kids on Christmas," 3 Jan. 2018 Muslim businesses and mosques were torched in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, and Muslim students were banned from attending schools or universities in the city. Lucy Westcott, Newsweek, "British Research Institute Report Says Rohingya Face Genocide Comparable to Nazi Era," 29 Oct. 2015 The protests have become a weekend ritual across France with tens of thousands of protesters gathering, sometimes violently smashing storefronts and torching cars. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "French ‘Yellow-Vest’ Protesters to Seek European Parliament Seats," 23 Jan. 2019 Something caused a canister to spark about 6 minutes into the flight, torching the tires upon which the box had been placed. CBS News, "ValuJet Flight 592 crash: FBI offers $10,000 for info on fugitive in deadly 1996 crash," 6 Apr. 2018 James has put up some monster numbers against the Wizards this season, torching them for 92 DraftKings points and 93 FanDuel points in one meeting. Cory Hanley,, "NBA DFS Picks for February 22," 22 Feb. 2018 Paul Caneiro was arrested last week and initially charged with aggravated arson for torching his own home in Ocean Township, N.J., while his wife and two daughters slept inside. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "New Jersey Man Charged With Murdering His Brother, Sister-in-Law and Their Two Kids," 29 Nov. 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

13 Mar 2019

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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).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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