noun, often attributive
\ˈfī(-ə)r \

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 \

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 \ adjective


fireable \ˈfī(-ə)r-ə-bəl, ˈfī-rə- \ adjective
firer noun

Examples of fire in a Sentence


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.


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

Reality is having five friends lose their homes in the (Alpine) fire. Nick Canepa,, "Grant and Orsillo offer welcome frivolity in Padres’ TV booth," 14 July 2018 Although the apartment was badly damaged in the fire, police found a DVD that played off the Pink Panther cartoon, showing the attack sites and gory photos of victims. Siobhán O'grady, Washington Post, "German court sentences woman nicknamed ‘Nazi bride’ to life in prison for role in racially motivated murders," 11 July 2018 In other news: A Norcross man has been charged by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in connection with the death of his girlfriend in a townhouse fire. Chelsea Prince, ajc, "Georgia parents charged after 4-year-old son shoots, kills himself," 11 July 2018 Someone in the crowd threw a bomb; police opened fire; seven officers and at least one civilian ended up dead. Livia Gershon, Longreads, "Clocking Out," 11 July 2018 That night, Grégory Reibenberg was in his bistro, La Belle Équipe, when gunmen opened fire on the terrace. Time, "Iconic Parisian Bistros Are Under Threat. Can They Be Saved?," 11 July 2018 Aghdam, 38, had driven to the video channel's headquarters from her Southern California home, slept in her car, and then marched onto the YouTube campus and opened fire on random employees. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "YouTube shooter autopsy reveals no drugs or alcohol in her system," 9 July 2018 After the shooting, questions surrounded the officers’ decision to open fire, despite an Orlando Police policy that prohibits shooting into moving vehicles in most cases. Michael Williams,, "Shoplifting suspect shot 4 times in fatal Orlando officer-involved shooting, autopsy shows," 6 July 2018 No one was injured in a house fire late Thursday morning in Naperville that left one person homeless, the Naperville Fire Department said. Erin Hegarty, Naperville Sun, "One displaced by Naperville house fire," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

After Strada was shot, Vega-Rosado got his own gun and fired several times, hitting and killing Brown. Michael Williams,, "Lake Mary man was killed by a stray bullet — all because of a fight he had no part in," 12 July 2018 Because Alex was firing his gun about once every half second. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Louie Swisher and his mom do a VR experience and take listener questions," 10 July 2018 Last week Guild Wars developer ArenaNet fired two developers, Jessica Price and Peter Fries, apparently based on their conduct in interacting with a streamer on Twitter. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Fortnite Season 5 Is Here, and the Rest of the Week in Games," 13 July 2018 Rebels fired mortars on Damascus, killing and injuring dozens of people. Raja Abdulrahim, WSJ, "Syria’s Former Rebel Strongholds Endure as Assad Regime Reasserts Control," 12 July 2018 On that day, China fired back with tariffs of the same amount. Jim Puzzanghera,, "After Trump's new tariff threat, China may either have to blink or widen the trade war," 11 July 2018 Arsenault, 24, a Shawnee High School graduate from Medford, N.J., fired rounds of 68 and 69 in 90-plus degree heat to finish at 5-under-par 137 and capture medalist honors. Joe Juliano,, "Shawnee grad Zach Arsenault takes medalist honors at U.S. Amateur qualifier," 10 July 2018 Outside at the barricade, other students shouted and fired their mortars against the unseen assailants. Joshua Partlow,, "Inside the church where Nicaraguan paramilitaries laid siege on university students," 14 July 2018 Another vehicle also was involved and shots may have been fired between the two vehicles, Armstrong said. David Harris,, "One man injured in apparent shooting in east Orange County," 14 July 2018

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


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


see fire entry 1

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Learn More about fire

Dictionary Entries near fire


fir club moss





fire agriculture

Statistics for fire

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fire

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

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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 \

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 \

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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