I have this image in my head of someone engraving letters or patterns onto a piece of wood (flat or not) or on metal (but it doesn't have to be both, either wood or metal is fine) with an instrument that is made of metal (iron?) and it is red-hot, which is how the work is done. I am sure there must be a word and it is used in art, but not only.

My first guess was incise, but it does not involve fire/heat:

to cut the surface of something carefully with a sharp tool (Cambridge)

Is there a verb that describes the same action but using fire or a red-hot metal instrument? (I wonder what the name of that would be also, but my main question is the verb).

The result looks something like that

enter image description here

I need it for a metaphor:

This experience was _______ in the depths of his being as with a red-hot iron (instrument - could it be chisel?)

Edit: I should have mentioned that the experience is not necessarily negative, though it may involve pain. In fact it is not. It has just been indelibly engraved in the soul.

  • 1
    Search the synonyms of 'engraving': etch and carve come to mind. Jun 18, 2021 at 17:59
  • I did, but "etching" is rather done with some sort of acid, and "carving" doesn't seem to involve heat either.
    – fev
    Jun 18, 2021 at 18:01
  • Emblazon. . . .
    – Xanne
    Jun 18, 2021 at 22:12

4 Answers 4


Since you’re not really limiting the material that is being burned, the best word is probably pyrography, sometimes called pokerwork. When done on wood, the tool is usually called a woodburner, but might be a poker, a branding iron, or (improvised) a soldering iron.

  • 2
    For the metaphor, the experience might have been branded or seared into the depths of his being... Jun 18, 2021 at 18:52

The mark and the tool used to make the mark are both called a brand.

brand noun


3 a (1) : a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership


5 : a tool used to produce a brand


Today, we're so used to capitalism and so unused to branding irons, that it may seem like the above is the secondary meaning. Perhaps it seems like first there was the concept of a brand as "a particular make of goods" and then we named the tool that made the brand label. But the reverse is true.

The word brand seems to come from

"Old English brand, brond "fire, flame, destruction by fire; firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch,"


  • Branding, however, is a different process from pyrography or pokerwork (pokerwork is normally a fairly crude form of pyrography). Pyrography and pokerwork are done using a heated point of some sort whereas branding is the creation of a design or image using a hot iron featuring the entire design. The difference is analogous to the difference between drawing and stamping or printing.
    – BoldBen
    Jun 19, 2021 at 4:22
  • @In the OP’s sample sentence, though, branded fits well.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 19, 2021 at 5:05

I suggest branded (or burnt). It's not exactly what you were thinking of, but very close, and a verb that's used metaphorically in this sense. The instrument for branding would be an iron (for burning it could be a poker).



  1. To char, scorch, or burn the surface of.


  1. b. To cause to be felt or remembered because of emotional intensity.

    The incident seared into the nation's memory.

    [American Heritage Dictionary]

The definitions given above are literal and figurative, respectively. The second one fits the bill nicely.

Thus you could write:

This experience was seared in the depths of his being as with a red-hot iron.

  • 1
    @Decapitated Soul Thank you for your efforts. By second I mean the figurative meaning of sear as in the example _The incident seared... _ Likewise, in the OP's example sentence.
    – user405662
    Jun 18, 2021 at 18:21
  • 1
    @KannE Had to cudgel my brains a bit before the word popped up in my mind. I was thinking as I was writing the answer that someone would already have preempted this answer.
    – user405662
    Jun 18, 2021 at 18:28
  • 2
    While a brand may sear, “sear” is not a word by itself that means “engrave a pattern onto wood”
    – Jim
    Jun 18, 2021 at 20:59
  • @Jim Yes, it means to burn the surface of something with sudden very strong heat. Also, I should have mentioned in the OP that the experience is not necessarily negative, though it may involve pain. In fact it is not.
    – fev
    Jun 19, 2021 at 22:42
  • 1
    @Jim Fair point! The word does however fit in the OP's example sentence— which has nothing to do with engraving a pattern onto wood. You could use the word and be sufficiently understood.
    – user405662
    Jun 19, 2021 at 22:50

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