Etymology
Advertisement
torch (n.)
mid-13c., from Old French torche "torch," also "handful of straw" (for wiping or cleaning, hence French torcher "to wipe, wipe down"), originally "twisted thing," then "torch formed of twisted tow dipped in wax," probably from Vulgar Latin *torca, alteration of Late Latin torqua, from Latin torquere "to twist" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist").

In Britain, also applied to the battery-driven version (in U.S., a flashlight). To pass the torch is an ancient metaphor from the Greek torch-races (lampadedromia) where the goal was to reach the finish line with the torch still burning. Torch-bearer "leader of a cause" is from 1530s. 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), Broadway slang, but the sense is obscure.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
torch (v.)
1819, "illuminate with a torch," from torch (n.). Meaning "set fire to" is from 1931. Related: Torched; torching.
Related entries & more 
torcher (n.)
"torch-carrier," c. 1600; see torch (n.). Meaning "torch singer" attested by 1940.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
torchiere (n.)
also torchere, "large, decorated candelabrum," 1910, from French torchère, from torche (see torch (n.)).
Related entries & more 
*terkw- 
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to twist."

It forms all or part of: contort; distort; extort; extortion; nasturtium; queer; retort; thwart; torch; torment; torque (n.) "rotating force;" torsion; tort; torticollis; tortuous; torture; truss.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit tarkuh "spindle;" Latin torquere "to twist;" Old Church Slavonic traku "band, girdle;" Old High German drahsil "turner," German drechseln "to turn on a lathe;" Old Norse þvert "across," Old English þweorh "transverse, perverse, angry, cross," Gothic þwairhs "angry."
Related entries & more 
candela (n.)
unit of luminous intensity, 1950, from Latin candela "a light, torch, candle made of tallow or wax" (see candle).
Related entries & more 
Tiki (n.)
"large wooden image of the creator-ancestor of Maoris and Polynesians," 1777, from Eastern Polynesian tiki "image." Tiki torch is first recorded 1973.
Related entries & more 
link (n.2)
"torch of tow, pitch, etc.," 1520s, of uncertain origin, possibly from Medieval Latin linchinus, from lichinus "wick," from Greek lykhnos "portable light, lamp," from PIE root *leuk- "light, brightness."
Related entries & more