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 While the majority of protests were peaceful, hundreds of Minneapolis businesses were looted in the wake of Floyd's death, and a police station was set on fire. Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, "‘We’re paying attention’: Vigils, rallies planned in George Floyd’s honor ahead of Derek Chauvin trial," 28 Mar. 2021 Two upstate New York teenage boys accused of setting a man on fire in his home have been indicted on murder charges, prosecutors said Friday. Fox News, "Rochester teens indicted on murder charges over allegedly setting man on fire," 27 Mar. 2021 The caller told dispatchers a gas can was on fire next to the vehicle, a white SUV. Stephen Hudak,, "Lake deputies find body in burned SUV," 27 Mar. 2021 There’s no real way to gauge the durability of someone who plays like his incredible hair is on fire. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Baseball ’21: San Diego can bury concerns, celebrate surging Padres," 27 Mar. 2021 In West Bengal, rival groups have attacked each other with sticks and rocks, and set vehicles on fire during campaigning. Star Tribune, "Modi's party seeks big win as 2 key Indian states vote," 27 Mar. 2021 And the firm’s CEO is a crusader, a fanatic who intends to use this power to go set the world on fire (as St. Ignatius Loyola may or may not have told his Jesuits). Stephen R. Soukup, National Review, "Managing Your Money the Woke Way," 25 Mar. 2021 Several videos from witnesses at the scene captured him jumping on top of the cruiser as people cheered, trying to help others flip it over, and then spraying an accelerant inside and lighting it on fire., "Cranston man pleads guilty to setting Providence police cruiser on fire during 2020 riots, faces federal prison," 25 Mar. 2021 However, the ‘Cats have several other talented players on their roster, including sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (plus-7.4 BPM), who has been on fire since Gillespie went down. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, "Villanova vs. Baylor picks, predictions: Who wins Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament game?," 23 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Republicans today believe there is an opportunity to be had to fire up their base for the 2022 midterm elections if the Democratic majority votes to remove Miller-Meeks from her seat. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "Back to the future: GOP invokes 1985 attack line in disputed Iowa House race," 29 Mar. 2021 Brooks said the phrase was intended to fire up the crowd for the next election cycle and is being misconstrued as advocating the violence that followed. Kim Chandler, ajc, "GOP firebrand US Rep. Mo Brooks enters Alabama Senate race," 23 Mar. 2021 Brooks said the phrase was intended to fire up the crowd for the next election cycle and is being misconstrued as advocating the violence that followed. Kim Chandler, Star Tribune, "GOP firebrand US Rep. Mo Brooks enters Alabama Senate race," 22 Mar. 2021 Think that new fashion startup without a dedicated IT department can’t figure out how to fire up a cloud data warehouse to support its booming business model? Patrick Moorhead, Forbes, "Oracle Announces Next Gen Autonomous Data Warehouse, Expands Addressable Market," 17 Mar. 2021 Even stocks like UTI Asset Management, which initially dropped below the issue price, are now starting to fire up. Prathamesh Mulye, Quartz, "Is India’s IPO boom hiding a bubble that’s waiting to burst?," 8 Mar. 2021 Of course Arkansas had to fire Petrino; there was really no other choice. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: From LSU to Kansas, everyone involved in Les Miles scandal should be fired. What's taking so long?," 6 Mar. 2021 The heavy rain last weekend ate away some snow, but the recent return of cold weather has allowed some resorts to fire up the snow guns and replenish it. Washington Post, "Top notch early spring skiing in the Mid-Atlantic this weekend," 5 Mar. 2021 Just open it on iPhone, and fire up a random YouTube video to see it in action. Chris Smith, BGR, "Microsoft just launched a cool new iPhone app you need to check out," 3 Mar. 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

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 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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