Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To suppress or extinguish quietly; stifle: burked the investigation by failing to reappoint the commission.
  • transitive v. To avoid; disregard: "To make The Tempest a tragic and depressing play he was willing to burke all the elements that made it the exact opposite” ( Robert M. Adams).
  • transitive v. To execute (someone) by suffocation so as to leave the body intact and suitable for dissection.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. 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.
  • v. To smother; to conceal, hush up, suppress.
  • n. Variant spelling of berk.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. 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 v. To dispose of quietly or indirectly; to suppress; to smother; to shelve.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

Etymologies

After William Burke (1792-1829), Irish-born grave robber and murderer.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Eponym, from William Burke. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • 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

  • Citation on burk.

    May 21, 2008

  • to murder without leaving a trace on the body

    November 5, 2007