Try Our Apps


Gobble up these 8 terms for eating


[bur-nish] /ˈbɜr nɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to polish (a surface) by friction.
to make smooth and bright.
Engraving. to flatten and enlarge the dots of (a halftone) by rubbing with a tool.
gloss; brightness; luster:
the burnish of brass andirons.
Origin of burnish
1275-1325; Middle English burnissh < Anglo-French burniss-, Middle French bruniss- (long stem of burnir, brunir to darken, polish), equivalent to brun- brown + -iss- -ish2
Related forms
burnishable, adjective
burnishment, noun
unburnished, adjective
1. buff, shine. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for burnish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the early spring, both parties began to burnish their armor for the first encounter in New York.

    Union and Democracy Allen Johnson
  • The burnish was gone from every part of the landscape, and a mild twilight reigned.

    Feats on the Fiord Harriet Martineau
  • Carve, burnish, build thy theme, But fix thy wavering dream In the stern rock supreme.

  • Their first care was to burnish up their armour and their weapons.

  • Let him get up a specialty for those five minutes and burnish it till it shines.

    Sunday-School Success Amos R. Wells
British Dictionary definitions for burnish


to make or become shiny or smooth by friction; polish
a shiny finish; lustre
Derived Forms
burnishable, adjective
burnisher, noun
Word Origin
C14 burnischen, from Old French brunir to make brown, from brunbrown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for burnish

early 14c., from Old French burniss- present participle stem of burnir, metathesis of brunir "to shine, gleam, sparkle" (trans.), "to polish, make sparkle, make bright, shine," from brun "brown; polished," from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German brun, Old Norse brunn "bright, polished; brown;" see brown (adj.)). The connection to "brown" might be explained if the original objects in mind were wooden ones. Related: Burnished; burnishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for burnish

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for burnish