"to heat, warm" (see warm
), or from PIE *bhre-n-u, from base *bhreue- "to boil forth, well up" (see brew
). Related: Burned; burning. Figuratively (of passions, battle, etc.) in O.E. Meaning "cheat, swindle, victimize" is first attested 1650s. As a noun, from 1520s. Slow burn first attested 1938, in reference to U.S. movie actor Edgar Kennedy, who made it his specialty. To burn one's bridges (behind one) "behave so as to destroy any chance of returning to a status quo" attested by 1892 in Mark Twain, perhaps ultimately from cavalry raids in the Civil War. Slavic languages have historically used different and unrelated words for the transitive and intransitive senses of "set fire to"/"be on fire:" cf. Pol. palic'/gorsec, Rus. eč'/gorel.