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

Synonyms for fire

Synonyms: Noun

conflagration, holocaust, inferno

Synonyms: Verb

blast, discharge, loose, shoot, squeeze off

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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

Yet no large buildings collapsed, a handful of structure fires were quickly put out, and even though many homes and businesses were damaged, there was no loss of life. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Alaska’s earthquake didn’t kill anyone—here’s why," 3 Dec. 2018 Semiautomatic weapons, by contrast, fire a single bullet per trigger pull. German Lopez, Vox, "Trump administration to ban bump stocks for guns," 29 Nov. 2018 Putting out fires while still tending to your own objectives is the central challenge of play. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Arkham Horror Third Edition: The classic Lovecraft adventure returns," 24 Nov. 2018 This was normal, the crew told her, just incoming fire from the Taliban. Jim Rendon, Marie Claire, "When Female Veterans Return Home," 29 Oct. 2018 When the officers approached, someone in the vehicle opened fire and Toney was hit, police said. Fox News, "Chief: Officer kills man accused of killing Georgia officer," 23 Oct. 2018 Andersen suggests using a room humidifier, which can help keep the needles fresher longer, as well as reduce fire risk. Brian Clark Howard, Popular Mechanics, "How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh Longer," 22 Oct. 2018 Officials said the fires were about 55% contained as of Saturday morning. Vivian Salama, WSJ, "Trump Calls for Better Forest Management During California Visit," 17 Nov. 2018 These fires are nothing new to the state, but over the past few years, national disasters have impacted the planet at a remarkable rate. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "California's Fires Lead to School Closings, Poor Air Quality, and Public Service Shutdowns as Death Toll Climbs," 16 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Suppose a Houthi missile fired from Yemen, supplied by Iran, hits a major Saudi military or civilian target and does enormous damage killing and wounding scores of people. WSJ, "Secretary Pompeo Is Far Too Forgiving of the Saudis," 3 Dec. 2018 Career Justice Department official who did nothing but great work, fired. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Memo from a ‘Facebook nation’ to Mark Zuckerberg: You moved fast and broke our country.," 26 Nov. 2018 To avoid this fate, the Soyuz capsule rotates around its axis of trajectory on the way down to increase stability, kind of like a bullet fired from a rifle. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Ballistic Reentry: How Astronauts Survive a Failed Launch," 11 Oct. 2018 According to the New York Times, the New York City Ballet fired Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro earlier this month. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "One Dancer Speaks Movingly About Scandals That Have Rocked the New York City Ballet," 28 Sep. 2018 The song got her fired from her job as a publicity assistant at a publishing company, according to Rolling Stone. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "9 Things You Didn't Know About "Crazy Rich Asians" Star, Awkwafina," 16 Aug. 2018 Last, the chic food start-up revealed that there’s been an ongoing food fight with PETA; the recent blogging was just the latest shots fired. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "PETA roasts Impossible Burger for rat tests, suggests patties cause cancer," 11 Aug. 2018 Much of the Jeong furor has been about actually racist alt-right trolls weaponizing old tweets in bad faith to get an Asian woman fired from an important job. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The problem with Twitter, as shown by the Sarah Jeong fracas," 8 Aug. 2018 The reality, of course, is that Zuckerberg will likely never be fired. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Who does Facebook fire after a bombshell New York Times investigation?," 15 Nov. 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

6 Dec 2018

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on fire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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