verb (used with object)

  1. to affect the color, taste, etc., of by burning slightly: The collar of the shirt was yellow where the iron had scorched it.
  2. to parch or shrivel with heat: The sun scorched the grass.
  3. to criticize severely.
  4. Machinery. burn1(def 31).
  5. to destroy (crops, towns, etc.) by or as if by fire in the path of an invading army’s advance.

verb (used without object)

  1. to become scorched: Milk scorches easily.
  2. Informal. to travel or drive at high speed: The car scorched along the highway.


  1. a superficial burn.


  1. to burn or become burnt, so as to affect the colour, taste, etc, or to cause or feel pain
  2. to wither or parch or cause to wither from exposure to heat
  3. (intr) informal to be very hotit is scorching outside
  4. (tr) informal to criticize harshly
  5. (intr) British slang to drive or ride very fast


  1. a slight burn
  2. a mark caused by the application of too great heat
  3. horticulture a mark or series of marks on fruit, vegetables, etc, caused by pests or insecticides

v.“to burn superficially or slightly, but so as to change the color or injure the texture,” early 14c., perhaps an alteration of scorrcnenn “make dry, parch” (c.1200), of obscure origin, perhaps from Old Norse skorpna “to be shriveled,” cognate with Old English scrimman “to shrink, dry up.” Or perhaps from Old French escorchier “to strip off the skin,” from Vulgar Latin excorticare “to flay,” from ex- (see ex-) + Latin cortex (genitive corticis) “cork;” but OED finds this not likely. Scorched earth military strategy is 1937, translation of Chinese jiaotu, used against the Japanese in a bid to stem their advance into China.

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