Indian burn refers to a popular schoolyard prank, where an individual places their hands upon the forearm of someone and starts twisting them in opposite directions, resulting in physical pain and a red discoloration on the skin.
The prank is also known by various other names, depending on the geographical location, including Indian Sunburn or Indian Rug Burn in the United States, or Chinese Burn in the United Kingdom.
Although the exact origin of the term “Indian burn” is not known, one of the earliest documented cases of the phrase comes from an account of a wrestling match between Tor Johanson and Tommy Rae, published in Binghamton Press on May 5th, 1937.
The phrase name of the is most likely tied to the peculiar torture methods of Amerindians or otherwise their skin color, often called red, similar to the result of an “Indian burn”.
“Indian burn” was and will likely remain a popular schoolyard game of measuring force between rowdy boys.
The act has been closely tied to the experience of childhood as a boy in popular culture, even appearing in literary works, cartoons and songs.
“Indian burn” was fist defined on Urban Dictionary in 2006, with several other entries to follow.