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[tawrch] /tɔrtʃ/
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.
Origin of torch1
1250-1300; Middle English torche (noun) < Old French < Vulgar Latin *torca something twisted. See torque
Related forms
torchable, adjective
torchless, adjective
torchlike, adjective


[tawrch] /tɔrtʃ/
verb (used with object)
to point (the joints between roofing slates) with a mixture of lime and hair.
1840-50; < French torcher to plaster with a mixture of clay and chopped straw, derivative of torche a twist of straw. See torch1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for torch
  • As one torch guttered, they used it to light another.
  • For instance, a mobile phone may include a torch-light for poorer customers and a fancy camera for the better-off.
  • Gill, who wore the campus uniform: khaki pants and a polo shirt stamped with the college's name and torch logo.
  • He was always careful to keep his torch pointed at the floor if he was there at night and to leave no trace of his visit.
  • Engineers have developed an efficient torch for blasting garbage with a stream of superheated gas, known as plasma.
  • The showy lantern tower of the tallest spire glowed with a nighttime torch when the king was in.
  • And while the acetylene torch can leave behind molten metal to fuse back together, the oxy-gas torch makes a clean cut.
  • Ionized hydrogen flickers a pale violet, and the welding torch ignites it into a pale blue flame.
  • Heat the flask's bottom with a propane torch until the water boils gently.
  • If you carry a second mobile phone, make sure it has a torch.
British Dictionary definitions for torch


a small portable electric lamp powered by one or more dry batteries US and Canadian word flashlight
a wooden or tow shaft dipped in wax or tallow and set alight
anything regarded as a source of enlightenment, guidance, etc: the torch of evangelism
any apparatus that burns with a hot flame for welding, brazing, or soldering
carry a torch for, to be in love with, esp unrequitedly
put to the torch, to set fire to; burn down: the looted monastery was put to the torch
(transitive) (slang) to set fire to, esp deliberately as an act of arson
Derived Forms
torchlike, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French torche handful of twisted straw, from Vulgar Latin torca (unattested), from Latin torquēre to twist
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 torch

late 13c., from Old French torche, originally "twisted thing," hence "torch formed of twisted tow dipped in wax," probably from Vulgar Latin *torca, alteration of Late Latin torqua, variant of classical Latin torques "collar of twisted metal," from torquere "to twist" (see thwart). In Britain, also applied to the battery-driven version (in U.S., flashlight). 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.


"set fire to," 1931, from torch (n.). Related: Torched; torching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for torch

top story

noun phrase

The head (1932+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with torch
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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