Definition of burr in English:

burr

Syllabification: burr
Pronunciation: /bər
 
/

noun

  • 1 [in singular] A rough sounding of the sound r, especially with a uvular trill (a “French r”) as in certain Northern England accents.
    [ mid 18th century]
    More example sentences
    • The Scotch-Irish are unlikely to share speech patterns and the characteristic burr (a distinctive trilled ‘r’) with the Scots.
    • Scots may lose their regional ties in becoming New Zealanders, and the accent softens or disappears apart from the Southland burr.
    • The best way I know of to learn a uvular trill, sometimes called a 'burr', is by practicing gargling.
  • 1.1(Loosely) a regional accent: a soft Scottish burr
    More example sentences
    • ‘The walls in York are more museums,’ he says, in a soft Dublin accent that's overlaid by a Cheshire burr.
    • Now, he says in his soft Scots burr, he doesn't know what sort of accent he has.
    • ‘So sad what's happened with Scottish football,’ he mourns in his soft Fife burr.
  • 1.2A whirring sound, such as a telephone ringing tone or the sound of cogs turning.
    [ early 19th century]
    More example sentences
    • We made do with the pips on digital Radio 2, and the engaged burr of mobiles as the servers overflowed.
    • It consists of hums and burrs and the shush of compressed air engaging and disengaging continually.
    • A heartbeat, a voice, and a burr of conscience I continue to gratefully hear.
  • 2 (also bur) A rough edge or ridge left on an object (especially of metal) by the action of a tool or machine.
    [ early 17th century]
    More example sentences
    • When done, give the wall a light sanding to knock down any burrs or ridges.
    • It slices through any material (including six inches of titanium) without leaving any burrs, or rough edges.
    • Use a metal file to remove any burrs and to dull the sharp cut edges.
  • 3 (also bur) A small rotary cutting tool with a shaped end, used chiefly in woodworking and dentistry.
    [ mid 19th century]
    More example sentences
    • He or she then uses the shaver burr to reshape the head/neck junction to restore normal head/neck offset, which eliminates impingement.
    • The burr, connected to a drive shaft and a turbine powered by compressed air, rotates at speeds up to 200 000 rpm
    • The assistant smooths irregular edges with a motorized burr.
  • 3.1A small surgical drill for making holes in bone, especially in the skull.
    More example sentences
    • The surgeon makes a 6-cm incision and uses a 5.0 mm round cutting burr to drill the burr hole.
    • This infusion is not stopped until the burr hole is drilled and the surgeon is ready to begin microelectrode recording.
    • A further development was to use a brace and bit to ream out (as bone dust) burr holes about 1 cm in diameter.
  • 4A siliceous rock used for millstones.
    [ mid 17th century]
    More example sentences
    • The urban manufacturers in Edinburgh and Glasgow usually made up their millstones from a centre-piece of indigenous rock with radial French burr segments around it.
    • The best and most popular stone ever discovered for grinding wheat into white flour is the French Burr.
    • The miller knows that there should be a difference in the dress for hulling stones, splitting or cracking stones, wheat stones, middlings stones and vertical burr stones.
  • 4.1A whetstone.
    More example sentences
    • These stones became the first burrs for grist mills.
  • 5 (also bur) A ring of bone at the base of a deer’s antler. Also called coronet.
    [ late 16th century: possibly from French bourre 'vine bud' or related to burl1]
    More example sentences
    • To make a comb the craftsman first cut off the tines or points and the burr (the swelling where the antler joined the skull) leaving just the beam (main part of the antler).
    • I signed this piece by carving my initials and 07 on the back of the burr.
    • This tie is done on a prairie find sun-bleached mule deer shed antler burr. I augmented the color of the burr with my own dye technique.
  • 6 variant spelling of bur.

verb

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  • 1 [no object] Speak with an accent in which the sound r is trilled: [with direct speech]: “I like to have a purrrpose,” she burrs
    [ early 19th century]
    More example sentences
    • They started the singing of their hymns, Newlands burring away in his boots and MacDougall slicing the words like cheese.
    • The Scots people are much nicer - proud, a little cold perhaps - but they were charming, with their lovely soft burring voices.
    • "Ye're loaded, are ye, Parcy?" asked the genial host in the burring Northumbrian voice we know so well even to-day.
  • 1.1Make a whirring sound such as a telephone ringing tone or the sound of cogs turning.
    [ late 18th century]
    More example sentences
    • First one brightly colored lorikeet burred past Zack's head, then another and another, until at least nine or ten birds were perched on the rail above the zookeeper's head.
    • If a contraption doesn't beep or burr when he switches it on, it's just too demeaning for him even to contemplate.
    • At this point, I make a burring noise and replace the receiver.
  • 2 [with object] Form a rough edge on (metal): the handles were fixed by rivets burred over on the shield’s front
    [ late 19th century]
    More example sentences
    • I hit my first snag when I managed to burr one of the screws, which made it impossible to remove the arm at all!
    • If you use a 24-tooth blade, which is what is needed for thin metal, there will be very little burring of the edge.

Phrases

a burr under one's saddle

North American informal A persistent source of irritation: he had been a burr under the saddle of the government in his time
More example sentences
  • Frankly I think the Empress was just being cranky but it irritated me all the same and the incident was still a burr under my saddle today.
  • I am moved to write you about a book review in your last issue and a closely related subject that has long been a burr under my saddle.
  • ‘He has a burr under his saddle,’ I said and the boy turned around, startled.

Origin

sense 1 of the noun of the noun and verb is probably imitative, the word burr incorporating the uvular r, but it is also possibly a figurative use borrowed from sense 2 of the noun, sense 3 of the noun, and sense 4 of the noun and sense 2 of the verb, the r being a ‘rough’ sound. See also bur.

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