9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[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 burnished
  • Over night the contending factions had burnished up their arguments, and a great tilt was confidently expected.
  • But his political skills, honed in the post-communist era, have burnished his reputation.
  • For now, it sits in storage, its burnished white-and-gold console protected by a sheet of plastic.
  • The bouquet shown here, for example, fills a burnished gourd.
  • It had everything: good beer, a quiet atmosphere, dark wood burnished by time.
  • Despite the difficulty of this technique, he burnished out parts of the composition and made radical changes.
  • There is wonderful steak and an excellent burger along with salty, crisp fries the color of burnished copper.
  • Barbecued beef stick burnished with peanut butter sauce and served atop a small salad is a sprightly treat.
  • burnished red and gold fabrics give rooms a vaguely palatial feel, even if they are on the cozy side.
  • Though he took time to warm up, he sang with burnished sound, ringing top notes and poignant phrasing.
British Dictionary definitions for burnished


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
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Word Origin and History for burnished



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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