carry a torch for


1 [tawrch]
a light to be carried in the hand, consisting of some combustible substance, as resinous wood, or of twisted flax or the like soaked with tallow or other flammable substance, ignited at the upper end.
something considered as a source of illumination, enlightenment, guidance, etc.: the torch of learning.
any of various lamplike devices that produce a hot flame and are used for soldering, burning off paint, etc.
Slang. an arsonist.
Chiefly British, flashlight ( def 1 ).
verb (used without object)
to burn or flare up like a torch.
verb (used with object)
to subject to the flame or light of a torch, as in order to burn, sear, solder, or illuminate.
Slang. to set fire to maliciously, especially in order to collect insurance.
carry the/a torch for, Slang. to be in love with, especially to suffer from unrequited love for: He still carries a torch for his ex-wife.

1250–1300; Middle English torche (noun) < Old French < Vulgar Latin *torca something twisted. See torque

torchable, adjective
torchless, adjective
torchlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To carry a torch for
World English Dictionary
torch (tɔːtʃ)
1.  US and Canadian word: flashlight a small portable electric lamp powered by one or more dry batteries
2.  a wooden or tow shaft dipped in wax or tallow and set alight
3.  anything regarded as a source of enlightenment, guidance, etc: the torch of evangelism
4.  any apparatus that burns with a hot flame for welding, brazing, or soldering
5.  carry a torch for to be in love with, esp unrequitedly
6.  put to the torch to set fire to; burn down: the looted monastery was put to the torch
7.  slang (tr) to set fire to, esp deliberately as an act of arson
[C13: from Old French torche handful of twisted straw, from Vulgar Latin torca (unattested), from Latin torquēre to twist]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

late 13c., from O.Fr. torche, originally "twisted thing," hence "torch formed of twisted tow dipped in wax," probably from V.L. *torca, alteration of L.L. torqua, variant of classical L. torques "collar of twisted metal," from torquere "to twist" (see thwart). In Britain,
also applied to the battery-driven version (in U.S., flashlight). Verb meaning "set fire to" is first attested 1931. Torch song is 1927 ("My Melancholy Baby," performed by Tommy Lyman, is said to have been the first so-called), from carry a torch "suffer an unrequited love" (also 1927), an obscure notion from Broadway slang.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

carry a torch for definition

To be infatuated with: “Frank may be engaged to Helen, but I think he still carries a torch for Laura.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

carry a torch for

Also, carry the torch for. Continue to feel the pain of unreciprocated love for, as in Jane has been carrying the torch for Bill for at least a year. The torch in this term alludes to the heat of love or passion. [1920s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature