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

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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

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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 And despite coming under fire for considering new voting reforms, Texas does not have a strict voter ID law and isn’t proposing one currently. Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner, "How Georgia's new voting law compares to other states," 9 Apr. 2021 In fact, this issue came up before a parliamentary committee in 2012, when the DCGI came under fire for not being transparent about the conditions under which the requirement of conducting bridging trials or local clinical trials could be waived. Dinesh Thakur, STAT, "India shouldn’t insist on ‘bridging trials’ in the middle of a pandemic," 8 Apr. 2021 While the new White House has come under fire for pulling back hard-line restrictions before it was fully prepared to handle the surge of migrants, some remain in place, ABC News has reported. Robert Zepeda, ABC News, "Migrants coming from Central America to US: 'We don't have many options'," 8 Apr. 2021 Yet his reputation is under fire after an investigation into one of his studies found evidence of manipulation—and elaborate efforts to cover up the misdeed. Hristio Boytchev, Science | AAAS, "Top German psychologist fabricated data, investigation finds," 8 Apr. 2021 Even during Marston’s lifetime, his Wonder Woman stories came under fire for how women were depicted, including frequent scenes of bondage. Washington Post, "She was the ‘secret’ Wonder Woman writer in the 1940s. Here’s how she finally got her due at 94.," 8 Apr. 2021 When Michelle Obama’s pointed, powerful Democratic National Convention speech came under fire from conservatives, out came the Melania nudes. Heidi Stevens,, "Column: Let’s stop dragging out Melania Trump’s nudes every time we want to defend a first lady," 8 Apr. 2021 The company came under fire before its 2019 IPO for providing services to notorious online forum 8chan, but Cloudfare cut the forum off after the August 2019 El Paso, Texas mass shooting. Lisette Voytko, Forbes, "Here’s The Richest Billionaire In Every U.S. State 2021," 7 Apr. 2021 With its vaccine rollout being tardier than those in the U.K., the U.S. and some other advanced economies, the Commission and the European Medicines Agency have come under fire over the relative slowness of the bloc's vaccine authorizations. David Meyer, Fortune, "If a COVID-19 vaccine does turn out to be dangerous, who’s on the hook?," 7 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Englishman ripped off an eagle and seven birdies in the space of, gulp, 10 holes Thursday to fire a 7-under 65 and take the first-round lead by a staggering four strokes. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, "First round of Masters is rough for everyone but Justin Rose," 8 Apr. 2021 Ikea managers set up a surveillance net to gather information to fire Mr. Amara and curb militant union activity, plaintiffs’ lawyers said. New York Times, "A ‘System of Espionage’ Reigned at Ikea, a French Prosecutor Charges," 7 Apr. 2021 Larry Bird's first major move as a Pacers executive was to fire his former rival two months before the 2003-04 season and hire Rick Carlisle. Nat Newell, The Indianapolis Star, "Can an NBA coach like Mike Woodson succeed in college for IU? History isn't kind," 29 Mar. 2021 Meanwhile, many Republican governors have been encouraging their citizens to fire up backyard barbecues and reject lockdowns for weeks. Washington Examiner Staff, Washington Examiner, "Biden spending bill: Debt upon more debt," 12 Mar. 2021 But hey fire him and hire a person of color and all is well in Oregon. oregonlive, "Canzano: Monday Mailbag turns up heat on Oregon State president F. King Alexander," 8 Mar. 2021 The other Democratic employee, Vernetta Keith Nuriddin, made the motion to fire Barron and sided with the Republican appointees to the board. Ben Brasch, ajc, "Fulton board votes to fire election director," 16 Feb. 2021 Because Rosen had refused the president's entreaties to carry out those plans, Trump was about to decide whether to fire Rosen and replace him with Clark. Katie Benner New York Times, Star Tribune, "Trump, Justice Department lawyer said to have plotted to oust acting attorney general," 22 Jan. 2021 The Tennessean reported Tennessee will fire Pruitt for cause and will not pay a more than $12 million buyout. John Talty |, al, "Tennessee expected to fire Jeremy Pruitt," 18 Jan. 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.

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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

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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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

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Comments on fire

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