Definition of burr in English:

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Pronunciation: /bəː/


1A whirring sound, such as a telephone ringing tone or the sound of cogs turning.
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.
1.1A rough pronunciation of the letter r, especially with a uvular trill as in a Northumberland accent.
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.
1.2(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.
2 (also bur) A rough edge or ridge left on an object (especially of metal) by the action of a tool or machine.
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.
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.
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.
4 [mass noun] A siliceous rock used for millstones.
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.
4.1 [count noun] A whetstone.
Example sentences
  • These stones became the first burrs for grist mills.
5 (also bur) A prickly seed case or flower head that clings to clothing and animal fur.
Example sentences
  • The plant must be eliminated before the flowers ripen and form the brown prickly burrs which spread the seeds.
  • He worked to make a synthetic material that duplicated the burs clinging to his wool socks.
  • It produces one inch long bur-like fruits with a single seed in each bur.
5.1 [usually as modifier] A plant that produces burrs, for example bur-reed.
Example sentences
  • Spot the walnut tree, toss the multi-hooked seed heads of the burr plants, help these path dwellers hitch a fleecy ride.
  • When we got here the nettles and sticky burrs had grown very high.
  • On show in the gallery is a striking coffee table fashioned from an elm burr found in a Tipperary wood.
6 (also bur) [as modifier] Denoting wood containing knots or other growths which show a pattern of dense swirls in the grain when sawn, used for veneers and other decorative woodwork: burr walnut
More example sentences
  • On these cars, this comes in the form of customised alloy wheels and special paint ranges, as well a host of specification upgrades, including Java leather, burr walnut or maple wood trims.
  • Working on a rosewood corner cupboard veneered in burr walnut, and featuring an inlaid marquetry honeysuckle design, will always remain one of Luke's favourite jobs.
  • The elegantly crafted table is constructed in English walnut with inlays of burr elm and satinwood stringing.
7The coronet of a deer’s antler.
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.


1 [no object] Make a whirring sound.
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.
1.1Speak with a regional accent, especially one in which the letter r is prominent.
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.
2 [with object] Form a rough edge on (metal).
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.


a burr under someone's saddle

North American informal A persistent source of irritation.
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.


Middle English (in sense 5 of the noun): probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Danish burre 'burr, burdock', Swedish kard-borre 'burdock'.

Words that rhyme with burr

à deux, agent provocateur, astir, auteur, aver, bestir, blur, bon viveur, Chandigarh, coiffeur, concur, confer, connoisseur, cordon-bleu, cri de cœur, cur, danseur, Darfur, defer, demur, de rigueur, deter, entrepreneur, er, err, farceur, faute de mieux, fir, flâneur, Fleur, force majeure, fur, hauteur, her, infer, inter, jongleur, Kerr, littérateur, longueur, masseur, Monseigneur, monsieur, Montesquieu, Montreux, murre, myrrh, occur, pas de deux, Pasteur, per, pisteur, poseur, pot-au-feu, prefer, prie-dieu, pudeur, purr, raconteur, rapporteur, refer, répétiteur, restaurateur, saboteur, sabreur, seigneur, Sher, shirr, sir, skirr, slur, souteneur, spur, stir, tant mieux, transfer, Ur, vieux jeu, voyageur, voyeur, were, whirr

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: burr

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