As the title says, I am looking for (a) word(s) expressing something(say a piece of bread slice) is a bit over burned and its outside becomes dark. After looking up dictionaries, I find a few: scorch, char, singe. I am wondering which one(s) are commonly used by native speakers?

1 Answer 1


(I'm a native American English speaker.) Those words all mean basically what you're looking for but with slightly different connotations.

"Scorch" is probably the most "dramatic" --- if the bread is scorched then it's been so burned that it's basically inedible. You would use this word to emphasize that the bread is burned to an extreme degree.

"Char" is sometimes used to describe this in a culinary context (here's a recipe for charred broccoli: https://whatsgabycooking.com/charred-lemon-broccoli/). "Blackened" is also common here. But food could also be accidentally charred.

"Singe" specifically means to burn only mildly. It can also be used for food.

For meat, we call this "well done", which is the opposite of "rare". There is a continuum of done-ness ranging from rare to well done with "medium rare" and "medium well" in the middle.

For bread, the common word for this process is "toasting". You stick a piece of bread in a toaster to toast it, after which it has become toast.

  • I saw a guy toasted a piece of bread two times in a toaster. I want to suggest he'd better not do so because it will make it too dark or burnt. What can I put in this situation? Thanks!
    – dan
    Feb 10, 2018 at 5:07
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    I would probably use "burn" there actually. "Don't do that! You'll burn it!" Especially with food, "burning" doesn't necessarily have to involve literal fire. "Burnt" when applied to food carries the connotation that you probably don't want to eat it. Feb 10, 2018 at 5:08
  • I don't see how well done meat or toasted bread is really relevant to something burned to the point of having a black outside. Maybe you meant to relate "singe" to those, but I still wouldn't describe toast or a steak as "singed" unless they're actually burnt.
    – clfm
    Feb 10, 2018 at 5:18
  • burnt is definitely most common in Canadian english, and works well across the domain of all foods that can be burnt and have that black char Feb 10, 2018 at 5:20
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    Try saying 'Can you toast my bread a bit lighter please?' Or 'I prefer my toast done more lightly'. In general asking for what you actually want, rather than saying what you don't want, brings better results - in life, not just in English! As in 'this toast is too black/burned/dark for me' still awaits you saying... what you do... want. Which is 'lighter toast, please'.
    – Jelila
    Feb 10, 2018 at 6:18

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