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 In July, an amphibious assault ship caught fire at Naval Base San Diego resulted in an onboard explosion that injured 63 people and filled the skies with dark smoke, according to officials. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, "At least 2 dead, 23 hospitalized after boat overturns off San Diego coast, authorities say," 2 May 2021 This time, though, the creation caught fire on TikTok., "Trending and tasty: 9 viral TikTok recipe hacks worth revisiting," 2 May 2021 The first drip of bad news came in January when an Endurance pickup truck prototype caught fire 10 minutes into its initial test drive in Michigan. Mark Gillispie, Detroit Free Press, "Late tax payment another troubling sign for electric truck startup Lordstown Motors," 28 Apr. 2021 For several years Mycoskie and his team tried to expand the TOMS BOGO concept to other product lines such as sunglasses, coffee and backpacks, but none of those efforts really caught fire. David Hessekiel, Forbes, "The Rise And Fall Of The Buy-One-Give-One Model At TOMS," 28 Apr. 2021 After impact, the pickup came to a stop in the northbound lane and caught fire, according to the report. Brianna Kwasnik, Arkansas Online, "Troopers: 2 killed in Cleveland County head-on crash," 28 Apr. 2021 The chapel at 3625 E. Doverhill Drive caught fire and was heavily damaged in 2019. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Cottonwood Heights neighbors ask LDS Church to preserve small park instead of selling it for development," 27 Apr. 2021 The first drip of bad news came in January when an Endurance pickup truck prototype caught fire 10 minutes into its initial test drive in Michigan. Mark Gillispie,, "An EV startup was going to save GM’s old factory in Lordstown. Then a truck prototype caught fire. Shareholders filed lawsuits. Now taxes are late.," 27 Apr. 2021 The first drip of bad news came in January when an Endurance pickup truck prototype caught fire 10 minutes into its initial test drive in Michigan. Mark Gillispie, Star Tribune, "Late taxes another troubling sign for electric truck startup," 27 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Showers and storms could already bring poor weather to parts of the southern Plains during the day Tuesday, but the severe threat won't ramp up until the end of the day when storms fire up across western Texas and then track east. Jackson Dill And Haley Brink, CNN, "Near record heat fuels severe storms this week," 26 Apr. 2021 In the first shooting, an attacker held a gun to a witness' head in June 2006, while another attacker who started to fire on a police officer experienced a malfunction with his gun. Jacques Billeaud, The Arizona Republic, "Feds push to extradite Phoenix driving school owner to Iraq," 22 Apr. 2021 As Frank Mozzicato reared back to fire his first pitch against Glastonbury on Monday, dozens of radar guns sprang up behind home plate. Shawn Mcfarland,, "East Catholic’s Frank Mozzicato, a UConn commit, dazzles in front of MLB scouts as he prepares to be next great pitcher to come out of Storrs," 19 Apr. 2021 Former Brooklyn Center officer Kimberly Potter, who announced her resignation Tuesday, meant to fire her Taser on Wright but used her handgun instead, according to former Police Chief Tim Gannon, who resigned shortly after Potter. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "Aunt of Daunte Wright says nephew's former teacher was George Floyd's girlfriend," 14 Apr. 2021 Boganey was fired later that day, giving Elliott the power to potentially fire the chief or officers on the force. Washington Post, "Officer Kim Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright, police said. She’s a 26-year vet, served as union president," 13 Apr. 2021 Trump also granted a pardon to Lorance, who had been serving a 19-year sentence for ordering soldiers to fire on unarmed Afghan civilians. Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY, "Army denies medals, Special Forces insignia, to soldier Trump pardoned for alleged murder," 18 Mar. 2021 Many of the speakers pleaded with the trustees to fire Alexander during public testimony on Wednesday. oregonlive, "Oregon State President Alexander staves off dismissal, put on ‘probation’ instead," 18 Mar. 2021 The betting public figures to fire on Texas, the Big 12 tournament champion, against a no-name team. Los Angeles Times, "NCAA tournament: Picks against the spread for first-round games," 18 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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 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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