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


2 [tawrch]
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. 2014.
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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
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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
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Bible Dictionary

Torches definition

On the night of his betrayal, when our Lord was in the garden of Gethsemane, Judas, "having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons" (John 18:1-3). Although it was the time of full moon, yet in the valley of the Kidron "there fell great, deep shadows from the declivity of the mountain and projecting rocks; there were there caverns and grottos, into which a fugitive might retreat; finally, there were probably a garden-house and tower, into whose gloom it might be necessary for a searcher to throw light around." Lange's Commentary. (Nahum 2:3, "torches," Revised Version, "steel," probably should be "scythes" for war-chariots.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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