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 upfired 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

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 Powell’s is under fire for carrying a book by right-wing agitator and commentator Andy Ngo. oregonlive, "Powell’s responds to protests over right-wing agitator Andy Ngo’s book: ‘We carry a lot of books we find abhorrent’," 11 Jan. 2021 Parler, which is popular with extremist groups seeking an alternative to more mainstream social media sites, has come under fire since the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Mark Gurman, Fortune, "Apple, Amazon remove Parler over accusations the platform helped incite Capitol attacks," 10 Jan. 2021 The mayor came under fire for her handling of the Jan. 6 riots. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "DC mayor calls for Inauguration Day modifications," 10 Jan. 2021 On the play, Brees was under fire from the Bears' defense. Amie Just | Staff Writer,, "Saints advance to divisional round after beating Bears in wild card slugfest," 10 Jan. 2021 But also coming under fire is the extended Trump family — including supermodel, Project Runway host, and girlboss entrepreneur Karlie Kloss, who is married to Joshua Kushner, the brother of Ivanka's husband, Jared. Photo: Edward Berthelot/getty Images.,, "Karlie Kloss Said She “Tried” To Confront Jared & Ivanka. That’s Not Enough.," 8 Jan. 2021 Jennings has already come under fire for his own past insensitive tweets. Los Angeles Times, "The #BeanDad debacle explained — and how ‘Jeopardy!’ star Ken Jennings got involved," 5 Jan. 2021 The Recording Academy is under fire again from critics who say the Grammys, music's most prestigious awards, routinely fail to appropriately honor females and artists of color. Gary Dinges, USA TODAY, "Trio of best children's group Grammy contenders decline nominations over lack of diversity," 4 Jan. 2021 Harbaugh has been under fire from fans for his team's play this season. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football wants to sign Jim Harbaugh to extension; ball is in coach's court now," 2 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With not a fan in sight, the Warriors made a concerted pregame effort to fire up those empty seats. Bruce Jenkins,, "Chase Center was empty, and so was the Warriors’ game," 1 Jan. 2021 The bodyweight dips will fire up your arms and shoulders; the lateral lunge shift will work your glutes and hamstrings; and the side plank with rotation will work your core. Amy Eisinger, M.a., SELF, "A Full-Body Strength Workout to Wake You Up," 30 Dec. 2020 The path to sustained power instead lies through symbolic, performative efforts like high-profile hearings or social-media virality that please donors and fire up partisan blocs of voters. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Congress Is the Problem Child of American Democracy," 23 Dec. 2020 Videos of wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster dancing on the Bengals logo before the game seemed to fire up the Cincinnati defence. Ben Morse, CNN, "Pittsburgh Steelers lose third straight game in 'Muppet Night Football'," 22 Dec. 2020 Harwell knows there are some customers who—out of nostalgia, frugality, or a desire to appease the kids—want to fire up an earlier Xbox or PlayStation and jam with some old favorites. Kyle Wiens, Wired, "Copyright Law Is Bricking Your Game Console. Time to Fix That," 11 Dec. 2020 Just be sure to head out before the sprinklers fire up. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, "5 ways to have the perfect pandemic date," 10 Dec. 2020 The Democrats sought to fire up their voters by highlighting the illegitimacy of the process. Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, "Dianne Feinstein’s Missteps Raise a Painful Age Question Among Senate Democrats," 10 Dec. 2020 With the legal effort headed toward a dead end, experts said the tour by Trump's legal team may help fire up the president's base while harming faith in the country's election systems. Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY, "Rudy Giuliani took a road trip to push claims of election fraud. He was rebuffed," 4 Dec. 2020

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

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for fire


How to pronounce Fire (audio)

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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Comments on fire

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