Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To suppress or extinguish quietly; stifle.
  • transitive verb To avoid; disregard.
  • transitive verb To execute (someone) by suffocation so as to leave the body intact and suitable for dissection.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To murder by suffocation in order to sell the body for dissection. This method was selected because it left no marks of violence upon the victims.
  • Figuratively, to smother; shelve; get rid of by some indirect manœuver: as, to burke a parliamentary question.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To murder by suffocation, or so as to produce few marks of violence, for the purpose of obtaining a body to be sold for dissection.
  • transitive verb To dispose of quietly or indirectly; to suppress; to smother; to shelve.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To murder by suffocation, or so as to produce few marks of violence, for the purpose of obtaining a body to be sold for dissection.
  • verb To smother; to conceal, hush up, suppress.
  • noun UK, slang Variant spelling of berk.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun British statesman famous for his oratory; pleaded the cause of the American colonists in British Parliament and defended the parliamentary system (1729-1797)
  • verb murder without leaving a trace on the body
  • noun United States frontierswoman and legendary figure of the Wild West noted for her marksmanship (1852-1903)
  • verb get rid of, silence, or suppress

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[After William Burke, (1792–1829), Irish-born grave robber and murderer.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Eponym, from William Burke.

Examples

Comments

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  • to murder without leaving a trace on the body

    November 5, 2007

  • Citation on burk.

    May 21, 2008

  • i've also seen it defined as "to smother people in order to sell their bodies for dissection." So called after William Burke, who was tried and executed for that very thing.

    July 1, 2009

  • In a strange attributive quirk
    To kill for a corpse is to burke.
    Second billing's unfair
    To poor William Hare
    Who matched Billy Burke in the work.

    See more about William Burke and William Hare here and here.

    January 6, 2015