1. To wither; to dry up.
2. To burn (the surface of) to dryness and hardness; to cauterize; to expose to a degree of heat such as changes the colour or the hardness and texture of the surface; to scorch; to make callous; as, to sear the skin or flesh. Also used figuratively. I’m seared with burning steel. (Rowe) It was in vain that the amiable divine tried to give salutary pain to that seared conscience. (Macaulay) The discipline of war, being a discipline in destruction of life, is a discipline in callousness. Whatever sympathies exist are seared. (H. Spencer)
Sear is allied to scorch in signification; but it is applied primarily to animal flesh, and has special reference to the effect of heat in marking the surface hard. Scorch is applied to flesh, cloth, or any other substance, and has no reference to the effect of hardness. To sear, to close by searing. Cherish veins of good humor, and sear up those of ill.
Origin: OE.seeren, AS. Searian. See Sear.
(used especially of vegetation) having lost all moisture; dried-up grass; the desert was edged with sere vegetation; shriveled leaves on the unwatered seedlings; withered vines.