Etymology
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scorch (v.)

"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.

scorch (n.)

"mark made by scorching," 1610s, from scorch (n.).

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Definitions of scorch
1
scorch (v.)
make very hot and dry;
The heat scorched the countryside
Synonyms: sear
scorch (v.)
become superficially burned;
Synonyms: sear / singe
scorch (v.)
destroy completely by or as if by fire;
the invaders scorched the land
The wildfire scorched the forest and several homes
scorch (v.)
burn slightly and superficially so as to affect color;
the flames scorched the ceiling
Synonyms: char / blacken / sear
scorch (v.)
become scorched or singed under intense heat or dry conditions;
The exposed tree scorched in the hot sun
2
scorch (n.)
a surface burn;
Synonyms: singe
scorch (n.)
a plant disease that produces a browning or scorched appearance of plant tissues;
scorch (n.)
a discoloration caused by heat;
From wordnet.princeton.edu