"to burn superficially or slightly, but so as to change the color or injure the texture," early 14c., scorchen, perhaps an alteration of scorcnen "make dry, parch; become singed" (late 12c.), itself a word of obscure origin, perhaps from Old Norse skorpna "to be shriveled," which is cognate with Old English scrimman "to shrink, dry up."
The old derivation is from Old French escorchier "to strip off the skin," from Vulgar Latin *excorticare "to flay," from ex- (see ex-) + Latin cortex (genitive corticis) "cork;" but OED and Century Dictionary find this not likely based on the sense difference. That word came into English separately as scorchen "strip the skin from" (mid-15c.).
Scorched earth military strategy is by 1937, said to be a translation of Chinese jiaotu, in reference to tactics to stem the Japanese advance into China. The tactics themselves are much older.
"very hot day," 1874, agent noun from scorch (v.). It also means or has meant "stinging rebuke or attack in words" (1842), "pretty girl" (1881), "line drive in baseball" (1900).
early 15c., scocchen "to cut, score, gash, make an incision," a word of obscure origin. Century Dictionary considers that it might be a deformation of scratch. Chronology rules out connection with scorch. Perhaps [Barnhart] from Anglo-French escocher, Old French cocher "to notch, nick," from coche "a notch, groove," perhaps from Latin coccum "berry of the scarlet oak," which appears notched, from Greek kokkos.
The meaning "stamp out, crush" (often figurative, of abstract things) is by 1825, earlier "make harmless for a time, wound slightly" (1798), a sense that derives from an uncertain reading of "Macbeth" III.ii.13). Related: Scotched; scotching.
Middle English seren, from Old English searian (intransitive), of plants, "dry up, to wither, become shriveled" (a sense now rare or obsolete), from Proto-Germanic *saurajan (source also of Middle Dutch soor "dry," Old High German soren "become dry"), from root of sear "dried up, withered" (see sere).
The transitive meaning "cause to wither, make dry" is from early 15c. The meaning "to brand, to burn by hot iron" is recorded from c. 1400, originally especially of cauterizing wounds; the figurative use from this, "deaden, deprive of sensibility" is from 1580s. The cookery sense of "dry or wither (meat, etc.) by application of heat, scorch the surface of" is recent. Related: Seared; searing.
"to cook (meat) by direct action of heat," late 14c. (earlier "to burn," mid-14c.), from Old French bruller "to broil, roast" (Modern French brûler), earlier brusler "to burn" (11c.), which, with Italian bruciare, is of uncertain and much-disputed origin.
Perhaps from Vulgar Latin *brodum "broth," borrowed from Germanic and ultimately related to brew (v.). Gamillscheg proposes it to be from Latin ustulare "to scorch, singe" (from ustus, past participle of urere "to burn") and altered by influence of Germanic "burn" words beginning in br-. From 1610 as "to be very hot." Related: Broiled; broiling.
c. 1500, "resplendent" (obsolete), from Latin flagrantem (nominative flagrans) "burning, blazing, glowing," figuratively "glowing with passion, eager, vehement," present participle of flagrare "to burn, blaze, glow," from Proto-Italic *flagro- "burning" (source also of Oscan flagio-, an epithet of Iuppiter), corresponding to PIE *bhleg-ro-, from *bhleg- "to shine, flash, burn" (source also of Greek phlegein "to burn, scorch," Latin fulgere "to shine"), from root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn." Sense of "glaringly offensive, scandalous" (rarely used of persons) first recorded 1706, probably from common legalese phrase flagrante delicto "while the crime is being committed, red-handed," literally "with the crime still blazing." Related: Flagrantly.
"small, live coal," Old English æmerge "ember," merged with or influenced by Old Norse eimyrja, both from Proto-Germanic *aim-uzjon- "ashes" (source also of Middle Low German emere, Old High German eimuria, German Ammern); a compound from *aima- "ashes" (from PIE root *ai- (2) "to burn;" see edifice) + *uzjo- "to burn" (from PIE root *heus- "to burn;" source also of Sanskrit osati "to burn, scorch," usna- "hot;" Greek euo "to singe;" Latin urere "to burn, singe;" Old Norse usli, Old English ysle "hot ashes," Old Norse ysja "fire"). The -b- is unetymological.
c. 1200, scalden, "to be very hot;" also "to affect (someone) painfully by short exposure to hot liquid or steam," from Old North French escalder "to scald, to scorch" (Old French eschalder "heat, boil up, bubble," Modern French échauder), from Late Latin excaldare "bathe in hot water" (source also of Spanish escaldar, Italian scaldare "heat with hot water"), from Latin ex "out, out of" (see ex-) + calidus "hot" (from PIE root *kele- (1) "warm"). Related: Scalded; scalding.
"[T]he word entered at an early date into the Scandinavian languages" [OED]. The noun is c. 1600, from the verb, "burn or injury to the skin by hot liquid or steam."
1690s, "sculpture of upper torso and head," from French buste (16c.), from Italian busto "upper body," from Latin bustum "funeral monument, tomb," originally "funeral pyre, place where corpses are burned," perhaps shortened from ambustum, neuter of ambustus "burned around," past participle of amburere "burn around, scorch," from ambi- "around" + urere "to burn." Or perhaps from Old Latin boro, the early form of classical Latin uro "to burn." The sense development in Italian probably is from the Etruscan custom of keeping the ashes of the dead in an urn shaped like the person when alive.
Attested from 1727 as "trunk of the human body above the waist." The meaning "bosom, measurement around a woman's body at the level of her breasts" is by 1884.