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to enhance, improve


burnish = polieren, aufpolieren; verbessern und attraktiver gestalten



Beijing promoted this as an economic win-win - it told other countries these investments would stimulate development, while at home it sold the BRI as a way to help Chinese companies, boost the economy and BURNISH the country's reputation.”

Tessa Wong — BBC News (17th October 2023)

“Rishi Sunak seeks to BURNISH UK’s global credentials on Washington trip. UK leader will hope to show Britain remains key player in global security and forging AI regulatory framework.”

The Financial Times (5th June 2023)

Did you


- to make (metal) bright by polishing

- if you burnish something such as your public image, you take action to improve it and make it more attractive

The Cambridge Dictionary


The verb burnish (early 14th century), meaning “to polish by friction" is from Old French burniss- burnir meaning "to shine, gleam, sparkle”, from a Frankish or some other Germanic source meaning "bright; brown". The connection to "brown" might be explained if the original objects in mind were wooden ones.

The meaning "cause to glow, clean (something) until it shines" is from the late 14th century.


Who burnished their image better?

Admired for her beauty, Jennie Jerome (Winston Churchill’s mother) glided through the loftiest social circles in Great Britain. Once, on consecutive nights, Ms. Jerome dined with England’s premier politicians: Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and his chief rival, William Gladstone. When questioned about her impressions of the two men, Ms. Jerome made the following observation:

“When I left the dining room after sitting next to Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But when I sat next to Disraeli I left feeling that I was the cleverest woman.”


ameliorate, beautify, better, brighten, brush up, BURNISH, buff, clean (up), do up, elevate, enrich, finish, furbish, glaze, gleam, gloss, go over, grind, hone, illuminate, improve, light up, lustre, oil, make glossy, perfect, polish (up), put finishing touches on, refine, renovate, retouch, revamp, rub (up), sand, scour, scrub, shape up, sharpen, shine, slick up, smooth(en), smooth out, spruce (up), strengthen, whet, work over (up)

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation, say something like:

“She gave a presentation at the company meeting that really helped to BURNISH her image."

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