backfire

verb
back·​fire | \ ˈbak-ˌfī(-ə)r How to pronounce backfire (audio) \
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

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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 But in the long run, McCarthy’s win-at-all-costs style could backfire—for the party and for the nation. Lissandra Villa, Time, "Kevin McCarthy’s Gamble on a “Big Tent” GOP," 23 Apr. 2021 The plan again drew backlash, from former Trump and Obama administration officials, who warned a complete withdrawal could backfire, Cloud, Wilkinson and Stefanie Glinksi reported. Los Angeles Times, "Essential Politics: Biden pledges to leave Afghanistan. It’s a withdrawal years in the making.," 21 Apr. 2021 Republicans will be seeking evidence that too much stimulus could backfire, while Democrats will look for support for continued aggressive fiscal stimulus. NBC News, "Fed Chair Powell's congressional testimony: Stimulus, job losses and inflation," 23 Feb. 2021 Party officials also worry that the president’s claims of fraud could backfire, undermining turnout by convincing Republican voters that the special elections are rigged against them anyway. New York Times, "A Gathering Political Storm Hits Georgia, With Trump on the Way," 4 Dec. 2020 But many researchers worry that the Trump Administration’s rush to approve a vaccine before the election may backfire—undermining public confidence in the vaccine and maybe any future ones too. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Trump wants a Covid-19 vaccine by Election Day. But will one be ready?," 4 Sep. 2020 However, scientists have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials – which normally last for months and involve thousands of people – could backfire. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "And Biden's VP is ... 🥁," 11 Aug. 2020 In other words, training a T cell to seek-and-destroy based on any one protein can backfire, since it’s rare for a cancer cell to display a protein that’s never found on healthy cells. Caroline Seydel, Forbes, "Outpace Bio Raises $30 Million To Design Next Generation Cell Therapies," 5 Apr. 2021 Somehow that doesn’t backfire, but Princess still gives up her remaining leverage by answering all the interview questions, and worse, handing over the rifle. Richard Rys, Vulture, "The Walking Dead Recap: The Not-So-Good Place," 21 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Georgia voting-rights activist Stacey Abrams saw her own misleading criticism of the new law backfire when her pleas to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred went ignored. Ilya Shapiro, Washington Examiner, "The voter suppression lie," 22 Apr. 2021 Could those visuals, ostensibly making this all seem routine, backfire? Star Tribune, "Needle-phobic people scarred by so many photos of COVID shots," 19 Mar. 2021 Casting the purpose of AVs as products that increase safety (rather than, say, convenience) could even cause a backfire effect. Iyad Rahwan, WSJ, "Self-Driving Cars Could Save Many Lives. But Mental Roadblocks Stand in the Way.," 6 Apr. 2021 Could those visuals, ostensibly making this all seem routine, backfire? Star Tribune, "Needle-phobic people scarred by so many photos of COVID shots," 19 Mar. 2021 Could those visuals, ostensibly making this all seem routine, backfire? Star Tribune, "Needle-phobic people scarred by so many photos of COVID shots," 19 Mar. 2021 Could those visuals, ostensibly making this all seem routine, backfire? Star Tribune, "Needle-phobic people scarred by so many photos of COVID shots," 19 Mar. 2021 Could those visuals, ostensibly making this all seem routine, backfire? NBC News, "Fear of needles may keep many people away from Covid vaccines," 8 Mar. 2021 The report does not indicate whether the preemptive backfire or the larger conflagration ultimately burned Jones. Matthias Gafni, SFChronicle.com, "Exclusive: Firefighting tactics went wrong in death of contractor, near-fatal injury to inmate," 25 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for backfire

Time Traveler

The first known use of backfire was in 1801

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Statistics for backfire

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Backfire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/backfire. Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce backfire (audio) \
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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Nglish: Translation of backfire for Spanish Speakers

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