I have come across numerous posts/memes on social media where, considering A,B and C are different people:

  1. A posts something seemingly innocuous.

  2. B comments on A's post, something either very funny or offensive to A

  3. C comments "BURN!!" with some ROFL emoticons

Not the best question, but I am just curious why people say "BURN", when they need to mock/insult other people? (according to UrbanDictionary).

How did this usage come into existence?

Is this used only in social media? Or is it used in real world conversations as well?

  • Perhaps it is related to the act of flaming in response to the post to A by B, and commented on by C? – IconDaemon Jan 11 '16 at 13:30

According to the UD burn (as a form of mockery) is an slang expression made popular by the "That 70's show," which ran from 1998 to 2006:

  • (slang): to disrespect someone (to diss); to make fun of someone; used by a third party after a first party makes fun of a second party. Brought back to life by the ever-popular That 70's show.
  • Urban Dictionary is crap – Mitch Jan 11 '16 at 14:09
  • @Mitch - Crap: it.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=crap – user66974 Jan 11 '16 at 14:11
  • 1
    Ooh... burn! Wait... – Mitch Jan 11 '16 at 14:16
  • All I'm saying is that I think it makes ELU look bad if you're simply quoting UD. I'd hope ELU has better standards than UD. – Mitch Jan 11 '16 at 14:17
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    @Mitch - UD has been used here before as a source. It is not the most reliable but it works at times. 4K+ upvotes may imply a plausible suggestion. I think it is worth citing in this case. – user66974 Jan 11 '16 at 14:20

According to Wiktionary, the noun burn has the following meaning (No. 5) that fits in your context:

(slang) An intense non-physical sting, as left by an effective insult.

The above meaning is derived from its No. 1 meaning:

A physical injury caused by heat, cold, electricity, radiation or caustic chemicals.

  • 1
    Actually I imagine the burn is from your cheeks flushed in embarrassment or anger rather than from caustic chemicals. – Oldcat Jan 11 '16 at 17:35
  • @Oldcat Yes, it could mean many things. When it is used on the internet, it is just an expression of hatred, contempt and scorn, etc. – user140086 Jan 11 '16 at 17:41

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