1 : to suppress quietly or indirectly
2 : bypass, avoid
This word comes from William Burke, famous for strangling or suffocating people at random and lucratively selling their bodies to a local anatomy school. He was eventually caught, and at his execution the crowd began yelling "BURKE him!," a clever nod to his work. He was hung, not strangled, but the verb stuck and softened over time, becoming now a quiet suppression.
Some other names that became words:
John Montagu, The Fourth Earl of Sandwich
Etienne de Silhouette
My favorite backstory belongs to Montagu, a compulsive gambler who refused to leave the table to eat, ordering from the kitchen only a piece of meat between two pieces of bread to tide himself over during a game. The servants coined the term in passing his order to the cook.
I mean, I found this story on the internet, so take it at face value.