To sear something is to quickly cook or burn its surface by applying intense heat. When making beef stew, the color and flavor are usually better if you sear the meat first.

Sear comes from the Old English word searian which meant “dry up” or “wither.” Typically, the verb sear now refers to burning or scorching something with heat, but if you see the phrase “wind-seared,” it means that a place — or something left in that place — has been withered by exposure to the elements. An unpleasant image can be seared into your memory, meaning you can't forget it.

Definitions of sear
  1. verb
    become superficially burned
    synonyms: scorch, singe
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    type of:
    burn, combust
    undergo combustion
  2. verb
    burn slightly and superficially so as to affect color
    synonyms: blacken, char, scorch
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    singe, swinge
    burn superficially or lightly
    type of:
    burn with heat, fire, or radiation
  3. verb
    cause to wither or parch from exposure to heat
    synonyms: parch
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    type of:
    dry, dry out
    remove the moisture from and make dry
  4. verb
    make very hot and dry
    synonyms: scorch
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    burn or sear with a sizzling sound
    type of:
    heat, heat up
    make hot or hotter
  5. verb
    cause a sharp or stinging pain or discomfort
    synonyms: bite, burn, sting
    feel hot or painful
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    nettle, urticate
    sting with or as with nettles and cause a stinging pain or sensation
    type of:
    ache, hurt, smart
    be the source of pain
  6. adjective
    (used especially of vegetation) having lost all moisture
    synonyms: dried-up, sere, shriveled, shrivelled, withered
    free from liquid or moisture; lacking natural or normal moisture or depleted of water; or no longer wet
Word Family

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