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

Definition of fire

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 3)

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 3)

finance, insurance, and real estate

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Fire weather watches are also in effect across western Texas, where the fire danger will make it into the Level 2 of 3, critical range by Tuesday afternoon. Jennifer Gray, CNN, 16 May 2022 For most people, the challenge will be continuing to operate schools, stores, police forces, fire departments, and other organizations as people get sick, Fine said. Globe Staff,, 16 May 2022 However, states in the Northeast have a low fire risk, the study found. Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY, 16 May 2022 This story has been corrected to show that Whitfield, not his father, is a former Buffalo fire commissioner. Carolyn Thompson And Michael Balsamo, Chicago Tribune, 16 May 2022 To justify air pollution restrictions, Polis has cited real-time evidence of climate change, drought and fire. Morgan Lee And Mead Gruver, Anchorage Daily News, 16 May 2022 In fact, as Oliver pointed out, between 2014 and 2017 PG&E’s failing infrastructure was responsible for, on average, more than one fire per day. Ky Henderson, Rolling Stone, 16 May 2022 From their bases in the region’s small villages, Ukrainian and Russian soldiers can barely see one another and trade artillery fire to suppress any advances. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 16 May 2022 The Office of the State Fire Marshall created a fire severity zone map in 2007. Karen Garciastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Also on the list is a 40mm launcher that can fire nonlethal sponge rounds, Varso said. Joe Tash, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2022 Another bill gives the legislature the power to fire employees and reduce funding for the elections commissioners if lawmakers determine any of them violated election law. Lalee Ibssa, ABC News, 10 Feb. 2022 Mariah Bell will be the oldest U.S. figure skating champion in nearly a century, Citi prepares to fire unvaccinated employees, and Amy Schneider is breaking a glass ceiling on Jeopardy!. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 10 Jan. 2022 Last week, the board voted to fire 496 employees who refused to comply with it. Erin Richards, USA TODAY, 16 Dec. 2021 Blackhawk helicopter gunships equipped with rotating-barrel electric machine guns that can fire 6,000 rounds per minute. Mark Stevenson, ajc, 25 Nov. 2021 The bill also includes fines for businesses that fire a worker without allowing the exemptions. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 19 Nov. 2021 After the warden reads the execution order, officials said the team will fire. Meg Kinnard, ajc, 23 Apr. 2022 Barry risks everything early in the new season, when Main Character A points a gun at Main Character B for a long scary moment — and does not fire. Darren Franich,, 22 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Statistics for fire

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for fire


\ 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

Fire biographical name

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

Definition of Fire

Andrew Zachary 1959–     American geneticist

More from Merriam-Webster on fire

Nglish: Translation of fire for Spanish Speakers

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


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