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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).
to burn or flare up like a torch.
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.
to point (the joints between roofing slates) with a mixture of lime and hair.
Contemporary Examples

The lucky recipient of today’s forthright remark was Charles McIlvenny, who ran with the torch in 1948 and is in his seventies.
Prince Philip Celebrates Return to Full Health With New Gaffe Tom Sykes July 9, 2012

Various speakers said his values and dreams would live on, and the younger generation would carry the torch.
The Last Reunion Adam Clymer August 29, 2009

The torch was then run around the stadium, while being passed between a corps of young athletes nominated by Redgrave and others.
Olympics Opening Ceremony Review: London Goes Wild Tom Sykes July 26, 2012

Consider the torch Passed The two comedians shared a sober moment with a symbolic passing of the torch.
Video From Last Night’s Farewell The Daily Beast Video May 29, 2009

After an image-invigorating tenure as U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton will pass the torch to Sen. John Kerry on Friday.
Week in Review: Cheat Sheet to the Week’s Big News (VIDEO) Kevin Fallon January 31, 2013

Historical Examples

The cricket fumbled the torch, and the flame fell on a powder fuse.
The Moon Colony William Dixon Bell

Dorothea was holding a torch, the liquid droppings of which fell upon her hands.
The Dream Emile Zola

Like a man that was done with its use, tossed the torch in the sea.
The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson – Swanston Edition Vol. 14 (of 25) Robert Louis Stevenson

His torch will be at the threshold and his knife at the throat of the planter.
The Works of Whittier, Volume VII (of VII) John Greenleaf Whittier

Marking well the spot, I dropped my torch, and raising my gun to my shoulder, fired.
Snow Shoes and Canoes William H. G. Kingston

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

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.

noun phrase

The head (1932+)

carry a torch
pass the torch


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