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 upfired 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

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Other Words from fire


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


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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Indonesian inmates protesting conditions at an overcrowded prison on Sumatra Island set fire to the facility Wednesday, prompting officials to deploy around 500 police and soldiers in response. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "Overcrowded Indonesian prison set on fire after riot breaks out," 13 Feb. 2020 Even if the antechinus in the fire’s area manage to survive, the ecosystem’s insects will have been obliterated. Matt Simon, Wired, "This Marsupial Dies After Marathon Mating. Now It's Got Bigger Worries," 12 Feb. 2020 The collaboration with the FBI facilitates and enhances emergency medical treatment capabilities, presents training opportunities, and enhances Lakewood’s level of preparedness and effective response to non-fire emergencies. John Benson, cleveland, "Lakewood Fire Rescue Task Force to partner with FBI for tactical events and training scenarios," 12 Feb. 2020 Arnault was again in the limelight after fire ravaged Paris’ ancient Notre Dame cathedral last April. Adrian Croft, Fortune, "Luxury goods mogul Bernard Arnault was briefly crowned ‘world’s richest man.’ Then coronavirus struck," 12 Feb. 2020 At the time, police accused Nogueira’s son and another man of setting a fire at a homeless encampment that grew into a threatening scores of homes. David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, "Kevin de León moves campaign event following complaints from homeless activists," 11 Feb. 2020 At least 30 people, including a pregnant woman and a baby, were killed when suspected Boko Haram militants set fire to a caravan of sleeping travelers in Nigeria. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for February 11: New Hampshire, coronavirus, budget, Germany, terror," 11 Feb. 2020 Upland dogs also need to be steady to shot to minimize the chance of injury from gun fire. John Gordon, Outdoor Life, "10 Gun Dog Disasters to Avoid," 11 Feb. 2020 In Texas, school districts are required by state law to hold several types of emergency drills a year, including lockdowns, fire evacuations and for sheltering-in-place for hazmat scenarios or severe weather. Ashley Mcbride,, "Teacher unions say active shooter drills can traumatize students," 11 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The team’s general manager, Jeff Luhnow, and manager, A. J. Hinch, were suspended for a season by the league and then fired by the Astros. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, "Is Stealing Signs in Baseball Really So Bad? Bobby Valentine Has Some Thoughts," 13 Feb. 2020 Williams took over for Saban after the 1999 season and was fired in 2002. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Mel Tucker is the 'fearless leader' Michigan State football hoped to find," 13 Feb. 2020 McKee was standing next to a police vehicle when she was struck by a bullet fired by a masked gunman towards officers. Henry Austin, NBC News, "Man charged with murder of Northern Irish journalist Lyra Mckee," 12 Feb. 2020 Sergio Lopez, 67, was fired by the school district in January. Danny Hermosillo, Houston Chronicle, "Galena Park school bus attendant accused of assaulting disabled girl, released on $100 bond," 12 Feb. 2020 No shots had been fired by officers, Cincinnati police spokesman Lt. Chris Mayhew,, "SWAT standoff ends after 6-plus hours; one person taken to hospital," 11 Feb. 2020 That, authorities said, was an apparent reference to an Office of Inspector General report into the actions of former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump. Richard Ruelas, azcentral, "QAnon follower who blocked bridge near Hoover Dam pleads guilty to terrorism charge," 11 Feb. 2020 Bill Thao, 13 months, was playing on the floor of a relative's home near North 73rd Street and West Mill Road on Dec. 27, 2014, when a barrage of 41 bullets fired by three gunmen in the street hit the building. Mike Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "4-year-old boy dies from gunshot wound on Milwaukee's northwest side; two people being held," 8 Feb. 2020 Manfred suspended Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for their roles, and they were soon fired by owner Jim Crane. Julian Mcwilliams,, "Rob Manfred: No Red Sox players will be punished," 6 Feb. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for fire

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fire

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for fire


How to pronounce Fire (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fire

Spanish Central: Translation of fire

Nglish: Translation of fire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fire for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about fire

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