This Idea came from this question of this group.. This made me thinking what is the specific (a scientific explanation may be more helpful) difference between burn and fire. If fire is the state that a substance is in then we should say it is firing (a state or thing is happening). But we don't, we say it in fire, but we say it is burning.

So, if a substance having something that is called fire, this phenomena is called burn, is that?

1 Answer 1


There is a difference in grammar. "Fire" is being used as a noun. "Burn" is being used as a verb (I'll note that there is a verb "to fire" and noun "burn" but these have different, but related meanings)

There are also two etymologies: fire has meant "fire" the substance, since Proto-Indo-European, and comes to English through Anglo-Saxon. Burn is also Anglo-saxon, but once had a meaning of "flicker", and before that "brew" (the /r/ sound got moved from before to after the vowel at some point)

But there is no strangeness in having a noun and verb with closely related meanings but unrelated etymologies: The wheel is turning. The sun is shining. The food is eaten.

Just as we don't say "eat the eat-thing" or "to food me with food" we don't the "fire is firing".

I'll just note that there is a verb "to fire" which is used with guns. And there is a noun "a burn" which is an injury caused by heat. Just as there is a verb "feed" with specfic meaning

To summarise: There are a lot of words in English. The word for burn is not similar to the word for fire, even if it is in some other languages.

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