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

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But if this were a playoff game, Roger Goodell would be waking up tomorrow to a bunch of folks in Gronk jerseys wielding pitchforks and torches outside his bunker. Justifiably. 3., "Twenty-three thoughts on the Patriots’ 23-16 loss to the Chiefs . . .," 9 Dec. 2019 There’s a lot of passing the torch and keeping the flame alive. Chancellor Agard,, "Katherine McNamara unpacks 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' first hour's 'historic moment'," 9 Dec. 2019 Born to Orthodox Jewish farmers in Transylvania, Ferencz, at just nine months of age, was brought to America by his parents aboard a ship, passing the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Awards Chatter' Podcast — Ben Ferencz ('Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz')," 9 Dec. 2019 The latter two will be passing the torch in upcoming films. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Why the Marvel Cinematic Universe Needed to Keep Spider-Man So Badly," 27 Sep. 2019 Spencer, a prominent white nationalist and a graduate of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, led torch-wielding demonstrators in a march on the city. Ralph Ellis, CNN, "The Charlottesville car attacker gets a life sentence: How we got here," 28 June 2019 Take the documentary footage of ailing Muhammad Ali, shakily lighting Atlanta’s Olympic torch, as a perfect symbol. Armond White, National Review, "Richard Jewell Is Eastwood’s History of the Future," 13 Dec. 2019 White nationalists and neo-Nazis marched and carried tiki torches, purportedly to defend a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from removal, on the evening of the 11. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Trump condemns “all types of racism and acts of violence” ahead of Unite the Right 2," 11 Aug. 2018 The sequel trilogy movies passed the torch from the cast introduced in 1977 — Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Fisher as Princess Leia — to a new cast of characters. Julie Washington, cleveland, "‘The Rise of Skywalker’ an emotional, gasp-inducing conclusion to ‘Star Wars’ trilogy," 18 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In Northern California, the Kincade Fire that had torched almost 100 square miles in Sonoma County was 76% contained Sunday, Cal Fire said. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Evacuation orders lifted for wildfire threatening 2,500 homes near Los Angeles," 3 Nov. 2019 The anniversary of the deadliest of those — last year's fire that torched the town of Paradise and killed 85 — is next week. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "California police rip drone pilot as device gets in way of wildfire relief efforts," 2 Nov. 2019 The anniversary of the deadliest of those — last year's fire that torched the town of Paradise and killed 85 — is next week. John Antczak, Anchorage Daily News, "Fire crews take advantage of calmer weather in California," 1 Nov. 2019 The anniversary of the deadliest of those — last year’s fire that torched the town of Paradise and killed 85 — is next week., "Authorities in Ventura County ordered evacuations for about 7,500 people in an area that includes roughly 1,800 buildings as the blaze threatened the small, unincorporated rural community of Somis.," 1 Nov. 2019 The anniversary of the deadliest of those — last year's fire that torched the town of Paradise and killed 85 — is next week. Brian Melley And Marcio Jose Sanchez,, "California endures more wildfires, but winds calming after a three-week siege," 31 Oct. 2019 This blaze is the latest of several fires that have been torching tinder-dry Southern California. NBC News, "A new, wind-whipped wildfire in San Bernardino area forces evacuation of 500 homes," 31 Oct. 2019 The one who torched Colorado, or the one benched against UCLA? 7. oregonlive, "Goe: Oregon, Utah, USC, ASU ... how I voted for The O’s Pac-12 Power Rankings (and why)," 25 Oct. 2019 An angry mob torched local government buildings, shops and homes and set fire to cars and motorbikes in Papua province’s Wamena city on Monday in a protest by hundreds of people sparked by rumors that a teacher had insulted an indigenous student. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Death toll rises to 32 in protests in Indonesia’s Papua," 24 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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Time Traveler for torch

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for torch

Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Torch.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 29 January 2020.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on torch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for torch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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 assert without proof or before proving

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