tr.v. bur·nished, bur·nish·ing, bur·nish·es
1. To make smooth or glossy by rubbing; polish.
2. To rub with a tool that serves especially to smooth or polish.
3. To improve or make more impressive: achievements that burnished her reputation.
A smooth glossy finish or appearance; luster.
[Middle English burnishen, from Old French burnir, burniss-, variant of brunir, from brun, shining, of Germanic origin; see bher-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.