Intermediate+ Word of the Day: blaze

blaze (noun, verb) /bleɪz/ LISTEN

A blaze is a bright flame or fire, or a very bright glow of light or color. Figuratively, a sudden outburst of passion or fury can also be called a blaze. As a verb, to blaze means ‘to burn or shine brightly, like a flame’ or ‘to flare suddenly with emotion.’ In addition, a blaze is a mark made on a tree to indicate a path or boundary and the verb to blaze mans ‘to mark with blazes’ and also ‘to lead the way.’

Example sentences

  • When the travelers entered the inn, they were met with the welcoming blaze of a fire in the hearth.
  • At this time of year, the garden is a blaze of different colors.
  • In a blaze of anger, Joe told his colleagues exactly what he thought of them.
  • The sun blazed in the blue sky.
  • "What makes you think you're better than anyone else," Jane blazed at Paul.
  • Blazes on the trees show the path to follow.
  • The organizers blazed the trail for the hikers to walk.
  • Clara's research has blazed the way for climate change solutions.

Words often used with blaze

blaze away: to burn brightly. Example: “The bonfire was blazing away in the middle of the field.” Blaze away can also be used figuratively to mean ‘to fire a gun continuously.’ Example: “The participants blazed away at the clay pigeons.”

go to blazes: go to hell. Example: “I don’t care what you think; you can go to blazes!” Blazes can be used in place of hell in other expressions, such as “What the blazes?” or “What in blazes?” but it is a little dated now.

In pop culture

If you do something in a blaze of glory, you do it in a spectacular or dramatic way. We most often use this expression when we are talking about dying or about bringing some important chapter of our lives to a close. You can listen to Jon Bon Jovi’s song “Blaze of Glory,” which was used on the soundtrack for the 1990 movie Young Guns II, here:

Additional information

A blaze is also a white stripe down the front of an animal’s face, especially a horse.

Did you know?

A blazer is a light, suit-type jacket. They are now often worn with sports clothes or as part of a school uniform, but originally they were brightly colored, which is where the name comes from.

Origin

Blaze dates back to before the year 1000. The Old English noun blæse (blase in Middle English) meant ‘torch or flame,’ can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic adjectival prefix blas– (shining or white), from the Proto-Indo-European root bhel– (to shine, burn or flash). It is related to the Old Saxon blas (white or whitish), the Middle High German blas (‘bald’ or ‘white or shining’), the Middle Dutch and Dutch bles and German Blesse (all meaning ‘white spot’), and the German blass (‘pale or whitish’), as well as the Greek phlegein (to burn) and the Latin flamma (flame), fulmen (lightning) and fulgere (to shine or flash), and many modern English words, including black, blanche, blank, blanket, blend, blind, blond, blue, flagrant, flame, inflame and even flamingo. The verb, meaning ‘to burst into flame,’ as well as ‘to burn brightly,’ comes from the noun, and dates back to around the year 1200. The noun blaze, meaning ‘a light colored mark or spot‘ (on an animal’s face), dates back to the early 17th century. It first appeared in Northern dialect, and probably came into English from the Old Norse blesi (white spot on a horse’s face). It may not have come from the other meanings of blaze, but its origin can be traced back to the same Proto-Germanic root. The sense ‘a mark on a tree’ (for a trail) dates back to the mid-17th century, and was originally a figurative use of the meaning ‘a white spot on an animal’s face,’ since the most common way to mark a tree was to cut a bit of bark from it (leaving a white mark). The verb meaning ‘to mark a trail’ dates back to 18th-century US English, and comes from the noun.

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