AskDefine | Define torch

Dictionary Definition



1 a light carried in the hand; consists of some flammable substance
2 tall-stalked very woolly mullein with densely packed yellow flowers; ancient Greeks and Romans dipped the stalks in tallow for funeral torches [syn: common mullein, great mullein, Aaron's rod, flannel mullein, woolly mullein, Verbascum thapsus]
3 a small portable battery-powered electric lamp [syn: flashlight]
4 a burner that mixes air and gas to produce a very hot flame [syn: blowtorch, blowlamp] v : burn maliciously, as by arson; "The madman torched the barns"

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a RP /tɔː(ɹ)ʧ/, /tO:(r)tS/
  • a US /tɔɹʧ/, /tOrtS/
  • Rhymes with: -ɔː(r)tʃ


  1. A stick with a flame on one end used as a light source.
    The mob of angry villagers carried torches and pitchforks to the vampire's castle.
  2. In the context of "UK|Australia": A portable source of electric light.
    Ernst slipped and dropped his torch on the flagstones, shattering the bulb and plunging us into darkness.


  • (stick with fire at one end): brand
  • (portable electric light): flashlight (US)


stick with flame at one end
portable electric light

See also


  1. To set fire to, especially using a torch (1) above.
    Some hoodlums had torched a derelict automobile, which emitted a ghastly pall of thick, black smoke that filled the street.



set fire to

Extensive Definition

Originally, a torch was a portable source of fire used as a source of light, usually a rod-shaped piece of wood with a rag soaked in pitch and/or some other flammable material wrapped around one end. Torches were often supported in sconces by brackets high up on walls, to throw light over corridors in stone structures such as castles or crypts.
A torch carried in relay by cross-country runners is used to light the Olympic flame which burns without interruption until the following Olympics. These torches were introduced first by movie maker Leni Riefenstahl for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi-Germany.
If a torch is made of sulfur mixed with lime, the fire will not diminish after being plunged into water. Such torches were used by the ancient Romans.
Juggling torches are often used as a prop in toss juggling: they can be flipped into the air in an end-over-end motion while being juggled, in the same manner as juggling clubs or juggling knives, but because of their sound and 'trail of flame', they can appear much more impressive to audiences. To a skilled juggler, there is only a slight chance of being burned, but they are still dangerous.


The torch is a common emblem of both enlightenment and hope. Thus the Statue of Liberty, actually "Liberty Enlightening the World", lifts her torch. Crossed reversed torches were signs of mourning that appear on Greek and Roman funerary monuments--a torch pointed downwards symbolizes death, while a torch held up symbolizes life, truth and the regenerative power of flame. The torch was also a symbol used by the British Conservative Party. Actually is also symbol of other political parties, like the Malta Labour Party.

Uses in the Roman Catholic liturgy

In former times, liturgical torches were carried in Eucharistic processions simply to give light. The Church eventually adopted their use for Solemn High Masses.
According to Adrian Fortescue ("The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy [1912]"), the more correct form of liturgical torches are non-freestanding (i.e. cannot stand up on their own). However, today, even in the Vatican, freestanding, tall candles in ornate candle-stick holders have replaced the former type. The torches are carried by torchbearers, who enter at the Sanctus and leave after Communion.
Anglicans of the High Church and some Lutherans use torches in some of their liturgical celebrations as well.

Blowtorches and similar

In construction usage, a torch is a small hand-held burner which makes a hot flame, usually fueled by oxygen and either acetylene or propane, that is used for either cutting or welding metals, particularly iron and steel. For example, blowtorch, cutting torch, or welding torch. For more information, see gas welding.

External links

torch in German: Fackel
torch in Esperanto: Torĉo
torch in Spanish: Antorcha
torch in French: Torche
torch in Croatian: Baklja
torch in Hebrew: לפיד
torch in Dutch: Fakkel
torch in Japanese: たいまつ
torch in Russian: Факел
torch in Simple English: Sconce
torch in Slovenian: Bakla
torch in Swedish: Fackla
torch in Chinese: 火炬
torch in Polish: Łuczywo

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acetylene welder, angle, arsonist, bait the hook, bank, blast lamp, blowpipe, blowtorch, bob, brand, burn, burner, butane lighter, candle, cigarette lighter, clam, conflagrate, cresset, dap, dib, dibble, drive, electric light bulb, enkindle, fan the flame, feed, feed the fire, fire, firebrand, firebug, fish, flambeau, flame, flaming torch, flare, flint, flint and steel, fly-fish, fusee, gig, glim, go fishing, grig, guddle, ignite, igniter, illuminant, illuminator, incandescent body, inflame, jack, jacklight, jig, kindle, lamp, lantern, light, light bulb, light source, light up, lighter, link, luminant, luminary, match, moon, net, portfire, rekindle, relight, relume, seine, set fire to, set on fire, shrimp, signal flare, source of light, sparker, spill, spin, stars, still-fish, stir the fire, stoke, stoke the fire, strike a light, sun, taper, touch off, trawl, troll, welder, welding blowpipe, whale
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1