backfire

verb
back·fire | \ˈbak-ˌfī(-ə)r \
backfired; backfiring; backfires

Definition of backfire 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to have the reverse of the desired or expected effect their plans backfired

2 : to make or undergo a backfire

backfire

noun

Definition of backfire (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a loud noise caused by the improperly timed explosion of fuel mixture in the cylinder of an internal combustion engine

2 : a fire started to check an advancing fire by clearing an area

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Synonyms for backfire

Synonyms: Verb

boomerang

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Examples of backfire in a Sentence

Verb

my plan to throw her a surprise party backfired when she ended up sobbing that everyone had forgotten her birthday

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The plan backfired spectacularly, and her government only maintained a slight majority thanks to support from the right-wing Northern Irish Democratic Union Party. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Top Brexit Officials Resign in Blow to Theresa May," 9 July 2018 But the decades-long strategy of covering up unprofessional behavior (or even criminal behavior) backfired. Laura Mcgann, Vox, "Bill Shine covered up sexual harassment at Fox News for decades until the plot blew up in his face," 5 July 2018 The decision backfired as the team plotted how to rebuild Buehler’s pitch count. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "Walker Buehler completes first leg of journey back to Dodgers," 4 July 2018 An earlier attempt by the family of a Trump administration official to promote business in China backfired. James T. Areddy, WSJ, "Eric Branstad, Son of U.S. Envoy to China, Used Trump Ties to Lure Business," 29 June 2018 The move nearly backfired when Japan lost 1-0 to Poland, but Colombia did the Japanese a huge favor by beating Senegal 1-0 to knock out the Senegalese and put Japan in the round of 16. Grant Wahl, SI.com, "World Cup Group Stage Ends With All Eyes on Fair Play, Unusual Battle for First," 28 June 2018 The gigabit tax break backfired, as Google Fiber's deployments stalled and the ISP still hasn't offered service in Oregon. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Comcast drops bid for “gigabit” tax cut that was created for Google Fiber," 5 June 2018 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s laudable attempt to warn of the dangers of fireworks may have backfired when his PSA video instead showcased a fun use for the mini-explosives -- igniting fruit. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Los Angeles mayor's fireworks warning proves lethal -- to a watermelon, anyway," 4 July 2018 Staver suggested that Ermold’s contributions from Hollywood entertainers may have backfired. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Gay candidate's election loss more about local politics than Kim Davis," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Nearly 3,000 firefighters have been working around the clock, lighting backfires and building a containment line, in an effort to keep the flames at bay. John Blackstone, CBS News, "Thousands of firefighters battling massive wildfires in western U.S.," 4 July 2018 Here's how Cal Fire is gaining ground in containing the 82,700-acre County Fire Advertisement Cal Fire crews are lighting backfires to contain the massive County Fire in Napa and Yolo counties near Lake Berryessa. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "County Fire swells to nearly 83,000 acres as firefighters inch closer to containment," 4 July 2018 But Smith made the decision backfire when his single made it 2-0. Clark Spencer, miamiherald, "It was 1993 all over again as teal-clad Marlins take care of Padres," 8 June 2018 So is talk of a Trump summit with Putin — unless the president bluntly confronts the Russian leader about his cyber espionage in Europe and the U.S. >> READ MORE: Will Trump’s deal-making backfire and embroil U.S. in new wars? Trudy Rubin, Philly.com, "Trump pummels G-7 democratic allies but loves autocrats | Trudy Rubin," 8 June 2018 If its wager backfires, everyday low prices will be where Walmart least wants it: in the stock price. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Healthy Skepticism About Walmart and Humana," 30 Mar. 2018 Praise for White's performance in Pyeongchang caught backfire on social media at a time when #MeToo and other movements are calling for more accountability about harassment and abuse. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "Olympic Champion Shaun White Refers to Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit as "Gossip"," 14 Feb. 2018 Praise for White's performance in Pyeongchang caught backfire on social media at a time when #MeToo and other movements are calling for more accountability about harassment and abuse. Jake Seiner, Houston Chronicle, "Shaun White apologizes for comments on sexual misconduct lawsuit," 14 Feb. 2018 Praise for White's performance in Pyeongchang caught backfire on social media at a time when #MeToo and other movements are calling for more accountability about harassment and abuse. chicagotribune.com, "Shaun White refers to sexual misconduct lawsuit as 'gossip'," 14 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'backfire.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of backfire

Verb

1852, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Dictionary Entries near backfire

backfiller

back fillet

backfin

backfire

backfisch

backfist

backfit

Statistics for backfire

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backfire

The first known use of backfire was in 1801

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More Definitions for backfire

backfire

verb

English Language Learners Definition of backfire

of an engine or vehicle : to make a loud sound when fuel is not burned properly

: to have the opposite result of what was desired or expected

backfire

verb
back·fire | \ˈbak-ˌfīr \
backfired; backfiring

Kids Definition of backfire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to have a result opposite to what was planned The joke backfired.

2 : to make a loud engine noise caused by fuel igniting at the wrong time

backfire

noun

Kids Definition of backfire (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a loud engine noise caused by fuel igniting at the wrong time

2 : a fire that is set to stop the spread of a forest fire or a grass fire by burning off a strip of land ahead of it

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Comments on backfire

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evasion of direct action or statement

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