Why was clemency trending last week?


[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.
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Examples from the web for burnish
  • He must be careful not to trade away his goal of near-universal coverage to burnish his credentials as a deficit-cutter.
  • The burnish of private money also helped make the college more of a supportive community.
  • It is also keen to burnish its anti-inflation credentials.
  • The last vestiges of sunlight gild and burnish the pink walls.
  • Donovan, who ran the marketing arm of the company, helped burnish its outlaw image.
  • Palace propagandists have struggled to burnish his image.
  • He left the state with a budget deficit, but has since tried to burnish his credentials as a hawk on spending.
  • He is serving his second and final term in office, a natural time to look overseas to burnish his legacy.
  • Many wonder whether his clean-government drive is intended to burnish his credentials in a looming struggle for power.
  • On the one hand, their involvement lets them burnish their brands in a fast-growing market.
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
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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
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