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Burn the earth vs Scorch the earth

burn the earth—(U.S. coll., dated) go at full speed:

  • When they reached the brow of the hill, I was half a mile in the lead, burning the earth…

scorch the earthdevastate all buildings, etc. in an area so as to leave nothing to the advancing enemy:

  • The Russians fell back upon their main line of defense, “scorching the earth” before this last convulsive thrust of the Nazi.

Note: Neither expression correlates in meaning with the phrase set the world on fire—(usually negat.) do smth. remarkable and cause a sensation (also: set the Thames on fire):

  • She does the job adequately but she’s not going to set the world on fire.