Burning Question: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 3, 2023

A "burning question" is an issue or a query of great importance or urgency that eagerly awaits resolution or an answer. It's often used to describe a question of significant interest or concern to a person or a group of people, indicating that it is a topic they feel strongly about and are keen to resolve or discuss. The term "burning" in this context suggests the intensity or the pressing nature of the question.

In short:

"Burning question" refers to an urgent or pressing query that someone desperately wants an answer to.

What Does “Burning Question” Mean?

The idiom "burning question" describes a query or problem of great importance or urgency. It suggests a high level of interest or concern, indicating that the question is eagerly awaiting an answer. It's often used in situations where there is a strong desire to resolve or discuss a particular issue.

Let's explore its core meanings and usage:

  • It refers to something that people are very eager to know or solve.
  • It is used in contexts where the issue or question is considered highly significant or pressing.
  • For example, "The burning question in everyone's mind was who would win the championship.
  • This idiom conveys a sense of urgency and intensity. It's as if the question is 'burning' in one's mind, needing immediate attention or answer.
  • Synonyms for "burning question" include "pressing issue," "urgent matter," or "critical query."
  • It is commonly used in both casual and formal contexts.

Where Does “Burning Question” Come From?

The phrase “burning question” has its roots in the Middle English word “brenning,” which means “scorching, hot.” This term was used in a figurative sense by the mid-14th century to denote something “powerful, strong, ardent.” The term “burning” began to be associated with “causing excitement” around 1865, and this is the sense in which it is used in the phrase “burning question.” The term has equivalents in French (question brûlante) and German (brennende Frage), suggesting widespread use across different languages.

Historical Example

"It was a burning question once whether the minister should deliver his Master's message clad in a black dress or in a white one; and while that dispute was being waged. the question was smouldering all around us whether he had any message whatever to deliver."

- The Church Systems of England in the Nineteenth Century, 1881

10 Examples of “Burning Question” in Sentences

Let's dive into some sentences to see how this idiom thrives in various contexts:

  • The burning question on everyone's mind is whether the company will go bankrupt.
  • After reading the draft, the burning question was about the main character's fate.
  • With the graph showing declining sales, the burning question is how to drive more revenue.
  • She had a burning question about whether the software was free to use.
  • The burning question after the meeting was about the number of products to be launched.
  • By the end of the presentation, we all had one burning question: would the strategy work?
  • Everyone's burning question was about the hot new feature to be released.
  • After the workshop, there was a burning question about the next steps.
  • The burning question for the team was how to thrive in a competitive market.
  • With the deadline approaching, the burning question was whether they'd finish on time.

Examples of “Burning Question” in Pop Culture

Here are some instances where the phrase made an appearance in pop culture:

  • “Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces 2004-2021” is a collection of essays and nonfiction pieces by Margaret Atwood. The book spans 2004 to 2021 and covers a wide range of topics.
  • “Burning Questions” is a TV series that aired in 2021. The show asks your favorite stars the most burning questions about their likes, dislikes, and the latest TV series and movies.
  • “Burning Questions” is an album by the English musician Graham Parker, released in 1992. It was his only album for Capitol Records.
  • An online article titled “Burning Question: Do Bookstores Have a Future?” discusses the future of bookstores in the age of Amazon and digital reading.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say “Burning Question"

There are several ways to convey the idea of a pressing query. Here are some alternatives:

  • Pressing query
  • Urgent matter
  • Top concern
  • Immediate issue
  • Crucial question

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “Burning Question”:

  • What does "burning question" mean?

It refers to an urgent or pressing query that someone is eager to have answered.

  • Where did the idiom originate?

Its origins are linked to the attention-grabbing nature of fire, symbolizing the urgency of the question.

  • Do people use "burning question" in everyday language?

Yes, it's a common idiom used to express the urgency or importance of a particular query.

  • Can "burning question" be used in a casual setting?

Yes, it can be used in both formal and casual settings.

  • Is there a song named "burning question"?

There might be songs with similar titles, but it would require a specific search to confirm.

  • Can it be used in written form?

Yes, it's often used in articles, stories, and other written content.

  • Are there other idioms related to "burning question"?

Yes, idioms like "pressing matter" or "top concern" convey similar meanings.

  • How can I use this idiom in a business setting?

You can use it to highlight an urgent issue or query that needs addressing, such as "The burning question in today's meeting is our sales strategy."

  • Is "burning question" used globally?

While the English idiom is understood globally, its usage might vary based on cultural and linguistic differences.

  • Can it be used humorously?

Yes, like many idioms, it can be used in a humorous context depending on the situation.

Final Thoughts About “Burning Question”

The idiom "burning question" refers to an issue or query of intense importance or urgency. It denotes a question or problem that demands immediate attention or resolution, often reflecting a high level of interest or concern from those involved.

To recap:

  • The adjective "burning" in this context is used metaphorically to indicate the pressing, urgent nature of a question or issue. It conveys the sense that the question is so important it feels as if it's 'burning' for an answer or solution.
  • "Burning question" is often used in contexts where there is significant public interest or concern, such as in debates, forums, or discussions about current events and critical issues.
  • This phrase can be applied in various settings, from informal conversations to formal debates or media discussions, whenever highlighting the crucial nature of a query or problem.
  • Using "burning question" suggests more than just curiosity; it implies a compelling need to address the issue due to its potential impact or the strong emotions it evokes.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy