noun, often attributive
\ ˈfī(-ə)r How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a(1) : the phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flame, and heat
(2) : one of the four elements of the alchemists air, water, fire, and earth
b(1) : burning passion : ardor young lovers with their hearts full of fire
(2) : liveliness of imagination : inspiration the force and fire of his oratory
2a : fuel in a state of combustion (as on a hearth) warmed his hands at the crackling fire
b British : a small gas or electric space heater
3a : a destructive burning (as of a building) The shack was destroyed by a fire.
b(1) : death or torture by fire He confessed under threat of the fire.
(2) : severe trial or ordeal He had proved himself in the fire of battle.
4 : brilliancy, luminosity the fire of a gem
5a : the firing of weapons (such as firearms, artillery, or missiles) The troops were ordered to cease fire. [=stop shooting] They opened fire on [=began shooting at] the enemy. also : the bullets, shells, etc., that are discharged The soldiers endured heavy fire. — see also friendly fire — compare counterfire
b : intense verbal attack or criticism His remarks have provoked heavy fire from his political opponents.
c : a rapidly delivered series (as of remarks)
on fire
1 : being consumed by fire : aflame The house was on fire.
2 : eager, burning He was on fire with enthusiasm.
under fire
1 : exposed to fire from an enemy's weapons The soldier showed courage under fire.
2 : under attack The company has come under fire for its discriminatory hiring policies.


fired; firing

Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to set on fire : kindle also : ignite fire a rocket engine
b(1) : to give life or spirit to : inspire the description fired his imagination
(2) : to fill with passion or enthusiasm often used with up
c : to light up as if by fire
d : to cause to start operating usually used with up fired up the engine
2a : to drive out or away by or as if by fire
b : to dismiss from a position
3a(1) : to cause to explode : detonate
(2) : to propel from or as if from a gun : discharge, launch fire a rocket
(3) : shoot sense 1b fire a gun
(4) : to score (a number) in a game or contest
b : to throw with speed or force fired the ball to first base fire a left jab
c : to utter with force and rapidity
4 : to apply fire or fuel to: such as
a : to process by applying heat fire pottery
b : to feed or serve the fire of fire a boiler

intransitive verb

1a : to take fire : kindle, ignite
b : to begin operation : start the engine fired
c : to operate especially as the result of the application of an electrical impulse the spark plug fires
2a : to become irritated or angry often used with up
b : to become filled with excitement or enthusiasm
3a : to discharge a firearm fire at close range
b : to emit or let fly an object
4 : to tend a fire
5 : to transmit a nerve impulse the rate at which a neuron fires

Definition of FIRE (Entry 3 of 4)

finance, insurance, and real estate


biographical name
\ ˈfī(-ə)r How to pronounce Fire (audio) \

Definition of Fire (Entry 4 of 4)

Andrew Zachary 1959–     American geneticist

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from fire


fireless \ ˈfī(-​ə)r-​ləs How to pronounce Fire (audio) \ adjective


fireable \ ˈfī(-​ə)r-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce Fire (audio) , ˈfī-​rə-​ \ adjective
firer noun

Synonyms for fire

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of fire in a Sentence

Noun Stay away from the fire. The shack was destroyed by a fire. Two people died in that terrible fire. How did the fire start? We warmed our hands over the fire. She built a fire in the fireplace. The fire went out and he had to light it again. Verb She fired the arrow at the target. He fired several shots at the police. He fired at the police. The gun failed to fire. The soldiers fired on the enemy. The shortstop fired the ball to first base. The angry mob fired rocks at him. The boxer fired a left jab at his opponent's chin. The story fired his imagination. She had to fire several workers.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In October 2018, Conway was shot three times in Lewisville when another vehicle pulled up next to him and opened fire. Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Dallas News, "Rapper Yella Beezy arrested on weapons charge during traffic stop in east Oak Cliff, Dallas police say," 14 Feb. 2021 Special Agent Daniel Alfin, 36, was also killed when the man at the center of the investigation, David Lee Huber, opened fire on the agents. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, "‘The heavens are crying’: FBI agent is laid to rest days after she and colleague were killed," 7 Feb. 2021 Authorities said the victim was in a vehicle when someone opened fire on the sedan. Carol Robinson |, al, "1 killed in early-morning shooting in Birmingham’s Pratt City," 6 Feb. 2021 In 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire from a hotel room window overlooking an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people. Brian Slodysko, ajc, "A glance at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's incendiary words," 4 Feb. 2021 Greene has drawn fire for past social media posts reported by various news organizations in which she's suggested support for killing Democratic politicians, unfounded QAnon theories and racist views. Alan Fram, Star Tribune, "Police tighten Congress security in era of rising threats," 30 Jan. 2021 Vowell allegedly opened fire and killed both Black and Grooms. Mark Osborne, ABC News, "70-year-old duck hunter who allegedly murdered 2 men found dead in swamp," 30 Jan. 2021 The shooting sparked several nights of violent street demonstrations, and Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, opened fire with an assault-style rifle during a protest on Aug. 25, killing two people and wounding a third. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, "Florida cop fired over social media posts supporting Capitol rioters, warning of civil war," 25 Jan. 2021 Police soon opened fire again, and eventually Bergman went to the ground. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Guilty plea from arrestee who fired gun in San Diego police headquarters parking garage," 21 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There are now allegedly CEOs in existence who will not conduct trade business during Mercury retrograde, or will fire staff based on their astrological birth charts. Alegría Adedeji, Harper's BAZAAR, "After a Bad Break Up, Tarot Dispelled My Anxiety," 17 Feb. 2021 The elections board initially voted to fire Barron in a closed-door executive session on Feb. 11 — an action that appeared to violate the state’s open meetings law. Ben Brasch, ajc, "Confusion over firing Fulton election head continues; state monitor weighs in," 17 Feb. 2021 The Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections voted on Tuesday to fire its elections director, Richard Barron, who has run the post since 2013. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Board votes to fire elections director for Georgia's largest county," 16 Feb. 2021 Mosquito Reservoir in Trumbull County has been giving up some small yellow perch and crappie around the state park marina on the south end of the lake, and the crappie bite along the north side of the Mosquito Causeway should fire up soon. cleveland, "Arctic weather provides angling opportunities: NE Ohio fishing report for weekend of Feb. 12-14," 11 Feb. 2021 As these celebrations have gotten more and more elaborate and dangerous, on Sunday, one couple decided to fire a cannon while announcing their baby shower. Lydia Wang,, "When Will Gender Reveal Parties Stop Happening?," 10 Feb. 2021 Some critics hoped President Biden would fire DeJoy, but a president can’t do that., "Weary postal workers hope Biden will bring new tone, change," 7 Feb. 2021 Despite playing at home, the Buccaneers weren’t allowed to fire the cannons from their famed pirate ship after touchdowns and big plays. Rob Maaddi, San Antonio Express-News, "Tom Brady wins Super Bowl No. 7, Buccaneers beat Chiefs 31-9," 7 Feb. 2021 Some critics hoped President Joe Biden would fire DeJoy, but a president can't do that. David Sharp, Star Tribune, "Weary postal workers hope Biden will bring new tone, change," 7 Feb. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of fire


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1b(1)

History and Etymology for fire

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English fȳr; akin to Old High German fiur fire, Greek pyr

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fire

Time Traveler for fire

Time Traveler

The first known use of fire was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for fire

Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fire



English Language Learners Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the light and heat and especially the flame produced by burning
: an occurrence in which something burns : the destruction of something (such as a building or a forest) by fire
: a controlled occurrence of fire created by burning something (such as wood or gas) in a special area (such as in a fireplace or stove)



English Language Learners Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shoot a weapon
: to throw (something) with speed and force
: to give life or energy to (something or someone)


\ ˈfīr How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Kids Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the light and heat and especially the flame produced by burning
2 : fuel that is burning in a controlled setting (as in a fireplace)
3 : the destructive burning of something (as a building)
4 : the shooting of weapons rifle fire
on fire
: actively burning
under fire
1 : exposed to the firing of enemy guns
2 : under attack


fired; firing

Kids Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : shoot entry 1 sense 2 fire a gun
2 : to dismiss from employment He was fired from his job.
3 : excite sense 1, stir It's a story to fire the imagination.
4 : to subject to great heat fire pottery
5 : to set off : explode fire a firecracker
6 : to set on fire They carelessly fired the barn.


noun, often attributive
\ ˈfī(ə)r How to pronounce fire (audio) \

Medical Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: fever or inflammation especially from a disease


fired; firing

Medical Definition of fire (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to transmit a nerve impulse
2 : to sear (the leg of a horse) with a hot iron in order to convert a crippling chronic inflammation into an acute inflammation that will stimulate the natural healing responses of the body

intransitive verb

: to transmit a nerve impulse the rate at which a neuron fires

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on fire

What made you want to look up fire? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!