Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

how to use the word sear in English

Have you ever had a scary image seared into your mind?

Maybe from when you were a kid?

Did you see a scary preview for a movie?

Now that trailer is seared into your mind and it’s so hard to get out.

You probably get the context of what this might mean.

However one word may stick out to you as something that you don’t fully understand.

The word “seared” may bring about a bit of confusion in both instances.

Today we’ll clear up this confusion.


An example:

Let’s take a look at a related example to really help in highlighting a common confusion.

Hello Lindsay! I have a question that I’d like some help with.  Recently I have been reading a YA novel and come across a phrase. It said: That moment was seared into my mind.

I know that the verb ‘sear’ means to incinerate the surface of something in a very brutal way, but I am almost sure that the meaning in this context is quite different.

Could you please enlighten me as to what it means? Thanks for creating AEE and I cannot wait to see the 1000th episode of you! See ya!


Great question!

This is such a great question because it talks about the very thing that can lead to so much confusion.

If that’s the actual definition of “sear” then how does it even apply here, at all?
This word has many meanings and can put a very distinct image in your head.

Some people might think of it in the terms of grilling a piece of fish.

You might sear it on the grill to eat it.


More examples:

There are many definitions, but let’s take a look at some of the more common ones you may have heard:

1. To char, scorch, or burn the surface of. 
  • Example: Oh no, I seared my finger on the pan!
2. To brown (meat) quickly using very high heat.
  • Example: Should I sear the salmon or should I bake it?


Another way to use it:

There is one more though that you may hear in conversation quite a bitTo be felt or remembered because of emotional intensity.

THIS is the one from the examples. It’s also the one that you likely hear about the most.

It’s like it’s being burned into your memory or brain.

In this way, sear is different from your original definition but it’s also very similar to a certain degree.


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Here are other ways of saying that you won’t forget something:

1. I’ll never forget it/the time when.
2. It’s burned into my brain/mind (similar to sear, but people also would say burned).
3. That is always on my mind.


What should you do next?

Try using the word “seared” in an everyday conversation.

Then try using one of the alternatives just so you can get the hang of this.

It may feel unnatural at first because you are used to the one and only definition that you ever understood.

You have to get practice with it so that you can gain insight how to use it regularly.

The more comfortable that you feel in using words like “seared” the more that you will be able to carry on natural and enjoyable conversations.



Though a word may be unfamiliar to you, it’s important to try using it.

You want to get used to it and recognize the different meanings.

If you can use the word in the different ways, then you know you’ve really mastered it.

You can see it working in a sentence and know that you have made some great connection happen.
It won’t be as hard as you think either, for these types of conversation will become second nature in no time at all.


What questions do you have today?

Let us know in the comments below.

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